Wings Magazine

BAE Systems Regional Systems finds new uses for BAe 146/Avro RJs

BAe 146 and Avro RJ regional jetliners that are now starting to come out of mainland European airline service are steadily finding new operators, markets and applications.

October 11, 2016  By BAE Systems

Demonstrating the flexibility, continued utility and economic attractiveness of the aircraft the new operators/applications for the aircraft include a prestigious overnight freight operation in Australia, an established airline in Africa, a new start-up airline operator in the Caribbean, and further aircraft for the aerial firefighting role in North America.

Some 220 BAe 146/Avro RJs remain in service, fully supported by BAE Systems Regional Aircraft – the Original Equipment Manufacturer. More than 12 million flight hours of service have been accumulated.

John Stevens, head of customer support for BAE Systems Regional Aircraft said today at the European Regions Airlines General Assembly in Madrid: “We strongly believe that this aircraft has many years of productive service yet to offer. In addition to continuing to support all our customers and, particularly in Europe, playing a constructive role in helping them to transition from our aircraft to newer types, we work to help introduce the aircraft to new market applications through our extensive and specialist engineering capabilities. BAE Systems can provide a total support package, planned for at least a 15-20 year period.”

Over the past few months three previously operated European BAe 146s have been placed with new operators in Australia and the USA. Two of these aircraft are BAe 146-200QT freighters, previously operated by ASL Aviation Group on behalf of the FedEx-TNT combination.


They have been sold to Pionair of Sydney, Australia, which in September started overnight freight services on behalf of Virgin Australia which has won a five-year US$575 million contract from TNT Express.

The aircraft fly the dedicated Eastern seaboard routes with one aircraft routing from Cairns-Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne to Adelaide and the second in the reverse direction but with the addition of Townsville, slotted in between Brisbane and Cairns.

The BAe 146 is still the only jet airliner allowed to operate at both Sydney and Adelaide during airport curfew hours and at around 10 tonnes freight payload is the right size for the job.

An ex-Bulgarian Airlines BAe 146-200 has also just been acquired by Neptune Aviation Services of Missoula, Montana and will be converted to the aerial firefighting role ready for the 2017 fire season.

Delivered in late September, this aircraft joins seven other Series 200s in Neptune service that have had a busy year in the Western United States. On one very busy day Neptune reports that one of their aircraft flew 18 sorties.

All told, 20 BAe 146/Avro RJs are now operating or being converted for the vital aerial firefighting role with three North American operators. In addition to Neptune Aviation Services, Conair of Abbotsford, Canada and its Aero Flite subsidiary in the USA has seven RJ85s, while the first of five BAe 146-200s being converted by Air Spray of Chico. California is expected to be rolled out before the end of 2016.

As the later-build Avro RJs also start to come out of European service, so they too are now finding new homes. Established Ghanaian airline Starbow has just taken delivery of its first RJ100 which it has added to its existing fleet of BAe 146 and ATR-72-500 aircraft.

Starbow has become the premier Ghanaian airline since it started services with BAe 146s in September 2011 and currently operates some 46 departures a week, providing air links from the capital Accra to other main domestic destinations such as Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi.

International services are also flown to Cotonou in Benin and Abidjan in the Ivory Coast.

Another ex-European RJ100 has just been delivered to new start-up airline BVI Airways based in Tortola, British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Once the airline has received its operating certificate from the authorities it plans to commence daily non-stop services from Tortola to Miami later in 2016. The 2.25 hour flight will dramatically reduce the existing journey time from the US city to the Islands.


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