Prestwick Airport, Ayrshire


Industry in the vicinity is primarily Jetstream Aircraft and British Aerospace Aerostructures who build aircraft and component parts respectively. Avial, an aircraft engine overhaul facility is also located at the airport, as well as a number of other small industries in the local Industrial Estate which is near the airport.

The Airport itself was opened in 1936 by the late Duke of Hamillton and Late Group Captain McIntyre as a Flying School. They were also the first men to fly across Mount Everest. The Flying Training School was known as Scottish Aviation, and as the nation entered World War II, the factory became involved in the repair of military aircraft. After the war, Scottish Aviation moved on into aircraft production, and two aircraft were designed and built at Prestwick. These were the Prestwick Pioneer and the Twin Pioneer. Both aircraft were used by the RAF, one of their most important features being the short take-off and landing capabilities. Both were used in the Malaysian jungles and in the mountainous parts of Muscat and Oman. In later years, the company moved into aircraft modification on behalf of major aircraft producers. The factory has also built buses, some going to Glasgow Corporation, caravans, electric fires, bottle coolers, and experimented with an electric car. In more recent times, the Scottish Aviation Company became part of British Aerospace and purchased the rights to build the Bulldog aircraft, a single engine initial trainer, which sold over 300 aircraft prior to the production line being ceased in the late 1970s. The company also took over the Handley Page Jetstream Aircraft, re-engined the design and currently have built over 300 Jetstream 31/32 models. More recently again, the company designed and have delivered over 100 Jetstream 41 aircraft.

Regrettably in May 1997, British Aerospace announced the closure of the Jetstream 41 production line, and the end of aircraft production at Prestwick. The last Jetstream 41 to be delivered from British Aerospace Regional Aircraft, Prestwick Thursday 26 March, one day short of the 7th anniversary of the roll-out of the first Jetstream 41 in the presence of Her Majesty, The Queen on 27th March 1991. This marked the end of an era in Scottish aviation history, with the closure of the Scotland's only aircraft manufacturing facility.

The BAe Military Aircraft and Aerostructures business unit will continue to operate from Prestwick, along with a small design and support team from the Regional Aircraft Business Unit. The MA&A Business Unit will continue to manufacture aircraft components, but not complete aircraft. There will be no development and test flying conducted from the Prestwick site. Efforts are being made to attract additional aviation based industry into the airport area, in an attempt to make it a Centre of Excellence for Aviation.

Prestwick airport came into its own during the Second World War, almost by accident, when a United States Air Air Force crew missed Ireland and landed at Prestwick. The airfield proved very beneficial to the Allies due to its splendid weather record - something which still applies today, although the major airlines have moved to Glasgow (Abbotsinch) Airport. Air freight is an important money maker for Prestwick, but it also has a number of feeder services to Dublin, Belfast and London (Stansted). Holiday charter companies also use Prestwick for both European and American destinations. The airport has a railway station adjacent to it with ½ hourly service to and from Glasgow.