The resulting Vickers Type 630 design was completed at Brooklands by Chief Designer Rex Pierson and his staff in 1945, a 32-seat airliner powered by four Rolls-Royce Dart engines providing a cruising speed of 275 mph (443 km/h). An order for two prototypes was placed in March 1946, and construction started almost immediately. Originally to be named Viceroy, the name was changed to Viscount after the partition of India in 1947. There was some work on replacing the Darts with the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba, but this was dropped by the time the prototypes were reaching completion.
Type 663 Tay Viscount demonstrating at Farnborough in September 1950
The prototype Type 630 made its maiden flight on 16 July 1948, piloted by Joseph "Mutt" Summers, Vickers' Chief Test Pilot. The design was considered too small and slow at 275 mph (443 km/h), making the per passenger operating costs too high for regular service, and BEA had placed an order for 20 piston engined Airspeed Ambassadors in 1947. Early flight trials, however, showed the qualities of a turboprop, resulting in a February 1949 order from the Ministry of Supply for a prototype of a stretched version with more powerful engines, the Type 700. The first prototype Type 630 was meanwhile awarded a restricted Certificate of Airworthiness on 15 September 1949, followed by a full Certificate on 27 July 1950, which allowed the aircraft to be placed into service with BEA on 29 July to familiarize the pilots and ground crew with the new aircraft, flying services between London and Paris, and London and Edinburgh for a month.
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