The original 748 design started in 1958 after the infamous Duncan Sandys 1957 "Defence White Paper" ended most military manned aircraft development in England, and Avro decided to re-enter the civilian market. The Viscount had the large end of the short-haul market neatly wrapped up, so Avro decided to design to a smaller feederliner design to replace the many DC-3's that were now reaching the end of their lifespan. Avro was not the only company to see the potential for a DC-3 replacement, and by this point the Fokker F27 Friendship was well advanced. Avro decided to compete by producing a design with better short-field performance, allowing it to operate from smaller airports.
The first aircraft flew from Avro's Woodford plant on June 24th, 1960, and two prototypes quickly proved the type's short field performance. Eighteen 748 Series 1 aircraft were produced, the first for British Skyways Coach-Air (later known as Dan-Air) but the majority for Aerolineas Argentinas. By this point Avro had been merged into the Hawker-Siddeley Group and the design was known as the HS-748.
The Series 2 entered production in 1961 with a higher take-off weight, and were produced to 198 examples, making it one of the most popular post-war British designs. The more powerful Series 2A followed for another 71, along with another 25 Series 2Cs.
Hawker Siddeley became part of British Aerospace in the mid-1970s with the Series 2B becoming the main production model.
Several large fleets remain active around the world, significantly in India, Canada and the United Kingdom.