This year Satair Group is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Officially registered on 23 December 1957 in Copenhagen, the newly-formed Scandinavian Air Trading Co A/S (SAT) really got down to business in 1958 with the purchase of a consignment of Pratt & Whitney R-985 engine parts in England.
Several of the founders of the new company worked in the technical sales department of Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) carrying out aircraft maintenance work for airlines across Europe and the Middle East that didn’t have their own maintenance facilities. But as SAS grew it decided in the mid-1950s to concentrate on maintaining its own aircraft.
Sensing an opportunity, the founders of the new company were entrepreneurial visionaries who realised that airlines that has previously used SAS for their aircraft servicing needed aircraft spares, which had to be tracked down, purchased and re-sold; with countless World War II surplus aircraft around there was no shortage of spares.
The formation of SAT (which was renamed Satair in the mid-1970s) as a dedicated aviation aftermarket company stood in quite stark contrast to other events in the aviation world at the time. This was an exciting time for new aircraft launches, the real dawn of the jet age, speed and height records being shattered and sad events like the Munich air crash which decimated the famous Manchester United ‘Busby babes’ team.
But behind these grand aviation events lies another world; an equally important world of behind the scenes support, keeping the aviation industry ticking over seamlessly and efficiently. This is the world that the founders of SAT pioneered and foresaw.
Today, while the global aviation industry has developed a thousand-fold into the vast enterprise that we all know and rely on, so – still behind the scenes – is Satair Group building on the founding vision of its creators and providing the logistical backbone, distribution, service, support, partnership and innovation that makes it one of the global leading providers of aftermarket solutions for the civil aerospace industry.
Here’s to the next 60 years!
Some of the aviation headlines from the 1957/58 period:
- February 24 1957: SAS opened the first regular scheduled service from Europe to the Far East over the North Pole with departures from Copenhagen and Tokyo using Douglas DC-7C aircraft.
- March 11, 1957: The prototype Boeing 707 jet airliner flew media on a demonstration flight from Seattle to Baltimore. The first production model flew in December 1957.
- May 2, 1957: Air France’s first Caravelle jet landed at New York’s Idlewild Airport from Miami on a tour of the USA and Canada
- July 11, 1957: Spitfires were decommissioned from RAF service. A total of 20,351 had been built
- August 28, 1957: An English Electric Canberra test aircraft powered by a Napier Double Scorpion rocket engine set a new world altitude record of 70,310 feet during a flight from Luton.
- December 12, 1957: A USAF F101A Voodoo fighter set an official world speed record of 1,207.6 mph
- February 7, 1958: A British European Airways Airspeed Ambassador crashed on take-off at Munich, killing 23 passengers including seven young Manchester United footballers and seven sports writers. The team manager Matt Busby was among the 21 seriously injured survivors
- April 18 1958: A Grumman F11F-I Tiger broke the world altitude record, flying to 76,932 feet from Edwards Air Force base. Only two weeks later this record was shattered by a French Sud-Ouest SO-9050 which reached 79,452 feet.
- May 7, 1958: You guessed it…the world altitude record was broken again by a Lockheed F104A Starfighter reaching 91,243 feet
- May 16, 1958; Another F104A Starfighter clipped almost 200 mph off the previous world airspeed record by reaching 1,402.19 mph.
- May 30, 1958; The prototype Douglas DC-8 jet airliner- rival to the Boeing 707 - made its maiden flight from Long Beach, California
- August 15 1958: Congress passed a bill creating the Federal Aviation Agency.
- October 4, 1958: British Overseas Airways Corporation became the first carrier to fly jets across the North Atlantic using two de Havilland Comet 4s – one from Heathrow to New York; the other in the opposite direction
- October 27, 1958: Pan Am transatlantic jet services were launched with the Boeing 707 from New York to Paris
- November 29, 1958; Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus took delivery of the first production Fokker F.27 Friendship twin turboprop airliner.