Shorts SD-330 — G-BDBS was the second prototype built making it's maiden flight on 8th July 1975. It joined the first prototype in the flight test program including a visit to the USA in early October 1976, before becoming the company demonstrator travelling to Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and the Middle East.
In 1982 it was converted into the prototype of the UTT variant but was converted back to it's original configuration and used by Shorts as a company runaround until being retired from service in 1992.
In October of that year the Aircraft was kindly donated by Shorts to the Ulster
The Shorts SD-330 was based on the company's successful Skyan design. With sales potential for a larger aircraft Shorts began to look at the possibility to stretch the basic design to satisfy the increasing needs of regional operators seeking something larger than the selection of 18/20 seat aircraft then available.
Design of the 330 was finished in the early part of 1973, with the first flight taking place at Sydenham on 22 August. The aircraft made its public debut at Farnborough two weeks later, and the first orders were received from Command Airways of New York and Canadian operator Time Air. Commercial opertions began on August 24 1976 when C-GATS the fourth of the type to be bulit, entered service with Time Air, flying a route from Lethbridge to Calgary and Edmonton.
Command Airways followed on the 18 October with the third production aircraft N51DD.
The design potential was not ignored by Shorts who set about adapting the aircraft for varied uses resulting in the 330-200 with more powerful engines, the 330-UTT (Utility Tactical Transport) and the all freight version the Sherpa, which incorporated a rear loading ramp. In March 1984 eighteen Sherpas were ordered by the USAF (C-23A) with a further ten C-23B ordered in 1988 for the USANG.
The design also evolved into the larger Shorts 360 aircraft which differed in having a tapered rear fuselage with a single swept fin and an increased capacity for 36 passengers.
Shorts 330 and 360 production continued throughout the 1980s, with the last shorts 330 to be built, a C-23B made it's first flight on 7 July1992. The final production total for the 330 was 140 aircraft.
Aviation Society, having been repainted in it's final company livery.
The Shorts 330/360 series were the last company-designed aircraft to be built before Shorts became part of the Bombardier group. G-BDBS is the oldest SD-330 in existence.
Shorts 330 in the Ulster Aviation Society' main hangar today
Photo: Shorts archive
Photo: Mark J. Cairns
Shorts SD-330 in the earlier days of the Ulster Aviation Society's current hangars at Maze Long Kesh