August, 1970, Canadian Aviation
Transair is pinning its hopes of starting a trans-continental freight line for its four newly acquired Hawker Siddley Argosy freighters. The Winnipeg-based regional carrier bought the Argosies recently from British European Airways (BEA), which had literally outgrown them. The Argosy was originally designed to ferry automobiles across the English Channel.
While the planes were valued at $1 million apiece, Transair bought the quartet at what a spokesman would only refer to as “bargain-basement rates.” Transair has trained enough crews to operate the fleet and already the Harvest Gold freighters have touched down on the runways from the Arctic to the Caribbean. For Transair, the Argosies have a double advantage. Their Rolls-Royce Dart engines are fully interchangeable with Transair’s Midwests HS 748s, and the airline’s experience with the Dart has brought nothing but enthusiasm.
The Argosies are being operated primarily by Transair’s affiliate, Midwest. They are available for freight or charter and are expected to get heavy use in Midwest’s sizeable operation supplying Manitoba Hydro’s Nelson River development and the more recent oil exploration work in Hudson Bay.
The Argosy was designed as a cargo carrier but is actually convertible to mix passenger and cargo, or as an 88-seat passenger transport. BEA, in fact, replaced them with all-cargo Vanguards with a 55,000-pound payload. One of the Argosy’s features is its “straight-through” loading. Doors at each end of the aircraft open a cargo hold 47 feet long and 80 inches high.
As standard equipment, the aircraft carries full and half pallets, elf-powered pallet loaders, pallet conveyors, nets and tie-downs. It can accept six standard pallets measuring 108 by 88 inches, and two men can load two tons of palletized cargo from trucks to the aircraft. Argosy requires 5,150 feet of runway at maximum TOW of 93,000 pounds. It cruises at 285 mph carrying 80,000 pounds at 14,000 feet.
Transair vice-president Sandy Morrison said two of the Argosies will be based at Resolute and Churchill, with the other two based at Winnipeg. The latter two will operate from Hay River and Norman Wells from time to time, however. One of the four is operating in an 84-seat passenger configuration for oil camp crew rotation work. The other three are being used for mineral and petroleum freight – one being utilized to carry helicopters between Edmonton and Resolute.
Mr. Morrison said Transair hoped to get a portion of the Toronto-Caribbean cattle transport business, now being serviced by Air Canada DC-8F equipment. But the market is not yet fully developed, Mr. Morrison added. The airline is also looking at the Winnipeg-Toronto freight business, hoping to schedule freight operations as easily as its Boeing 737 passenger flights.
Transair executives are convinced that the Argosy has the capability to provide air freight service at rates which are substantially lower than jet freight, but with service almost as prompt.
This article originally appeared in the August, 1970 edition of Canadian Aviation magazine.