The F27 Friendship series of twin-engined turboprop aircraft were amongst the most successful post-war western short-haul airliners. The Dutch firm Fokker had been one of the pioneers of airliner development in the 1920s with the F.VII-3m series, the most famous of which was Kingsford Smith's 'Southern Cross'. The first prototype Friendship flew in 1955 and the production prototype flew in 1957. Production aircraft were fitted with the Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engine. In addition to F27 Friendships built in Holland, the US firm Fairchild produced the Friendship as the F-27 and the longer FH-227. The Friendship quickly became popular with airliner customers in Australia. The first order for six aircraft was placed by the Commonwealth on behalf of Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) in 1956 with deliveries to begin in 1959. Butler Air Transport, Queensland Airlines and Ansett-ANA all followed quickly with orders mostly to replace Douglas DC-3 aircraft on country services. The first Friendship to arrive in Australia was TAA's VH-TFB 'Abel Tasman' in April 1959. This aircraft crashed on approach to Mackay airport in Queensland on 27 June 1960 killing all 29 people on board. The accident investigation revealed the need for a flight recorder which was already being developed in Australia by Dr David Warren of ARL. Flight recorders became mandatory for all Australian passenger aircraft over 5900 kgs in 1965. Australia was the first country to make flight recorders mandatory.
Friendships continued to be the most widely used airliner for country services around Australia until the 1980s when they were mostly replaced with other types including the Fokker 50, an updated Friendship with modern avionics. Fokker also produced military versions of the Friendship which were widely used by smaller air forces. Production ceased in 1986.