Aviation Traders

Aviation Traders (Engineering) Ltd.


Aviation Traders Ltd (ATL) was established by Frederick Alfred Laker (b. 6 August 1922 – d. 9 February 2006) at Bovingdon in Hertfordshire, in 1947 to trade in war-surplus aircraft and spares. Two years later, Laker shifted his fledgling business to new premises at Rochford aerodrome (later Southend Municipal Airport) near Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

ATL initially specialised in converting numerous war-surplus bombers and military transports into freighters. Aviation Traders (Engineering) Ltd, ATL's engineering division, was formally established in 1949 and in 1951 won a contract from Bristol Aircraft to manufacture wing centre sections for Bristol Freighters. With this, ATL grew into a large engineering and manufacturing organisation. ATL also became one of many post-war aircraft manufacturers seeking to develop a successor to the then ubiquitous Douglas DC-3. ATL's answer was the ATL-90 Accountant, which first flew on 9 July 1957. The Accountant was designed for 28 passengers but, competing against the Avro 748, Handley Page Dart Herald, Fokker Friendship and YS-11, proved unsuccessful.

In 1958 Laker announced his decision to sell both ATL and Air Charter to Airwork, the deal becoming effective in January 1959, when both companies joined the Airwork group. Subsequent conversion work proved more successful. Some Avro Tudor airliners were fitted with large freight doors to carry cargo for Air Charter Ltd (one of ATL's sister companies) as Supertraders. Twenty-one Douglas DC-4 airliners were converted into car ferries as the ATL-98 Carvair, the prototype conversion first flying on 21 June 1961. Initially, it was thought that second-hand, pressurised DC-6 and DC-7 airframes could be converted into larger, "second generation" Carvairs within 15 years of the original DC-4-based Carvair's entry into service, but this failed to materialise.

Aviation Traders remained under Airwork in the Air Holdings group until 1976, when the company moved to Stansted and AT(E)L had become Britavia. In 1990, Britavia and Airwork design offices were amalgamated to become the Britavia devision of Airwork and the company finally disappeared in 1993 when Airwork was acquired by Short Brothers.

The Aviation Traders name was revived in 1996 when it became a separate company and still exists today as an aircraft design engineering consultants based at Bournmouth Airport.

Company References
  1. The Flight of the Accountant: a Romance of Air and Credit, Flight to Insolvency  Armstrong, P. (2005).
  2. ATL-98 Carvair, The, William Patrick Dean (McFarland & Company, 2008)

Project Data top

Project No

Type No


Alternative Name(s)







  A.T.L.8X     Prdn 30 Construction of wing centre sections for  Bristol 170 (3) - See Bristol 170
  A.T.L.90 Accountant  1957  Proto 1 2E medium range airliner 1,4,5,9,12,13
  A.T.L.91 Auditor    Proj 0 2S tricycle u/c trainer (3)
  A.T.L.92 Accountant Military   OR.323 Proj 0 Military development of A.T.L.90 (3)
  A.T.L.93 Accountant Military   OR.323 Proj 0 Military development of A.T.L.90 (3)
  A.T.L.94 Not Used       
  A.T.L.95 Accountant II    Proj 0 42 pass. development of A.T.L.90 (3)
  A.T.L.95 (See Note 1)    Proj 0 Double deck development of A.T.L.90 2
  A.T.L.96     Proj 0 Swing nose freighter dev. of A.T.L.90 3
  A.T.L.97 Not Used       
  A.T.L.98 Carvair  1961  Prdn 21 4E passenger / car transport 1,6,7,8,10,11,14
  A.T.L.98-7 Carvair 7    Proj 0 Carvair variants of DC-6 and DC-7 2
  A.T.L.99     Prdn (4?) Britannia "Combined Passenger Freighter" conv. (3) - See Bristol Brittania
   Freighter    Proj 0 Bristol 170 replacement study 2

  1. Type number A.T.L.95, originally used for Accountant II, was reused for double deck Accountant development.

Project References
  1. British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, Vol 1, A.J. Jackson (Putnam, 1973)
  2. Stuck On The Drawing Board, Richard Payne (Tempus Publishing Ltd., 2004)
  3. ATL-98 Carvair, The, William Patrick Dean (McFarland & Co, 2008)
  4. Aviation World, 2006/1 (Air-Britain Publications)
  5. Air Enthusiast Quarterly 111
  6. Air International Magazine, Dec 1995
  7. Air Pictorial Magazine, Mar 1982
  8. Aircraft Illustrated Magazine Jul, 1971
  9. Aircraft Illustrated Magazine Jun, 1973
  10. Aircraft Illustrated Magazine Oct, 1979
  11. Aviation News Magazine Vol 8/21
  12. Flight Magazine, Jul 5, 1956
  13. Flight Magazine, Nov 1, 1957
  14. http://www.geocities.com/anjapaul/

Production Summary top


Type No


Qty (New)

Qty (Conv.)











Total Aviation Traders Production


Total Aviation Traders Cancelled Aircraft


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V1.3.0 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated February 2017