Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national flag carrier, has turned 49 today.
Soon after Bangladesh's Liberation War, on January 4, 1972, Biman had its humble beginning as the national flag carrier through a Presidential Ordinance. However, the airline still did not have any aircraft for launching its commercial operation.
On January 16, 1972, Bangladesh Air Force pilots Captain Alamgir Sattar Bir Protik and Captain Shahabuddin Ahmed Bir Uttam met Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and requested him to ask the Bangladesh Air Force to donate to Biman the Douglas DC-3 aircraft, which BAF had received from the Maharaja of Jodhpur along with one Otter and one Alluette helicopter.
Captain Sattar and Captain Shahabuddin both flew that DC-3 during Operation Kilo Flight. Bangabandhu agreed to the request and the DC-3 was handed over to Biman.
The airline commenced its commercial operation from February 4, 1972 with the Douglas DC-3 aircraft. However, the aircraft had only ten seats, and was still not ready to be put into service. It was then configured for passenger operations, fitted with benches to increase capacity to carry 16 passengers, and went through some maintenance work.
The inaugural flight took off from Dhaka for Chattogram and then to Sylhet, Jashore and Ishwardi. Sadly only six days after the first flight, the DC-3 crashed on take-off from Tejgaon Airport during a training flight and Captain Khaleq, Captain Nasir Haider, Cadet Pilot Sharfuddin, Cadet Pilot Moazzem Hossain and Cadet Pilot Mostofa, who were on board, all lost their lives.
Soon after this tragic incident, two Fokker F-27s were procured from Indian Airlines and Biman resumed its journey.
Biman now boasts one of the youngest fleets in Asia with four Boeing 777-300ERs, six 787 Dreamliners, six 737-800s and three Dash-8 Q400s.