British Civil Aviation in 1981

1 January
Fulfilling the British government’s plan to return British Aerospace (BAe) to private ownership, British Aerospace Ltd is vested with all assets, liabilities and obligations, and re-registered as British Aerospace Plc.

5 January
Sir James Martin, designer and manufacturer of the Martin-Baker ejection seats, dies aged 87.

6 January
Laker Airways receives the first of its ten Airbus A300s.

15 January
A Sikorsky S61N of British Airways Helicopters and Bell 212s of Bristow Helicopters are involved in the rescue of nine men from a sinking ship 185 kilometres (115 miles) north-east of the Shetlands.

30 January
British Airways make a record 96 automatic landings in one day at Heathrow airport.

8 February
British Airways Helicopters receive the first of its six Boeing Vertol 234 Commercial Chinooks.

11 March
British Caledonian Helicopters opens new facilities at Aberdeen airport to expand its offshore gas and oil platform operations.

29 March
British Airways operates its last British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) VC10 service, after its 29 aircraft have carried 13 million passengers without accident.

12 April
British hot-air balloon manufacturer Thunder-Colt Balloons makes the first flight of its new AS80 airship.

9 May
Rolls-Royce begin testing the RB211-535C turbofan engine for the new Boeing 757 airliner.

20 May
The first of three British Aerospace (BAe) 146 development aircraft is completed.

1 July
British Airways Helicopters starts Boeing Vertol 234 Chinook services to offshore gas and oil platforms.

7 July
The MacCready Solar Challenger makes the first solar powered crossing of the English Channel. The 290 kilometre (180 mile) flight from Cergy Pontaire, near Paris, to Manston in Kent is completed in 5 hours 23 minutes.

13 September
A new United Kingdom operator, Anglo Scottish Air Parcels, begins a small parcel service between nine United Kingdom airports.

20 September
The SEPECAT Jaguar with Marconi Avionics/Dowty fly-by-wire control system makes its first flight. The system uses electric actuation of the control surfaces and has no mechanical back-up.

30 September
The last de Havilland Comet flight in Britain ends at East Fortune, from where the aircraft goes to the Royal Scottish Museum.

2 November
The first scheduled international service from Stansted Airport is inaugurated by Air United Kingdom who fly to Amsterdam.

24 November
Two Bristow Helicopters Sikorsky S61Ns rescue 48 workers from the oil rig Transworld 58 after it escapes its moorings.