The Shorts SD-330 was based on the company's successful Skyan design. With sales potential for a larger aircraft Shorts began to look at the possibility to stretch the basic design to satisfy the increasing needs of regional operators seeking something larger than the selection of 18/20 seat aircraft then available.
Design of the 330 was finished in the early part of 1973, with the first flight taking place at Sydenham on 22 August. The aircraft made it's public debut at Farnborough two weeks later, and the first orders were received from Command Airways of New York and Canadian operator Time Air.
Commercial opertions began on August 24 1976 when C-GATS the fourth of the type to be bulit, entered service with Time Air, flying a route from Lethbridge to Calgary and Edmonton. Command Airways followed on the 18 October with the third production aircraft N51DD.
The design potential was not ignored by Shorts who set about adapting the aircraft for varied uses resulting in the 330-200 with more powerful engines, the 330-UTT( Utility Tactical Transport) and the all freight version the Sherpa, which incorporated a rear loading ramp. In March 1984 eighteen Sherpas were ordered by the USAF (C-23A) with a further ten C-23B ordered in 1988 for the USANG. The design also evolved into the larger Shorts 360 aircraft which differed in having a tapered rear fuselage with a single swept fin and an increased capacity for 36 passengers.
Shorts 330 and 360 production continued throughout the 1980's, with the last shorts 330 to be built, a C-23B made it's first flight on 7 July1992.
The final production total for the 330 was 140 aircraft.