The Saab 340 is a Swedish two-engine turboprop aircraft designed and initially produced by a partnership between Saab and Fairchild Aircraft in a 65:35 ratio. Under the initial plan Saab built the all aluminium fuselage and vertical stabilizer, and also performed final assembly in Linköping, Sweden while Fairchild was responsible for the wings, empennage, and wing-mounted nacelles for the two turboprop engines. After Fairchild ceased this work, production of these parts was shifted to Sweden.
Design and development
Originally designated as the SF340, the aircraft first flew on 25 January 1983. When Fairchild exited the aircraft manufacturing business in 1985 after about 40 units, Saab continued aircraft production under the designation 340A and 159 units were built. An improved version, the second generation 340B, introduced more powerful engines and wider horizontal stabilizers in 1989 and all the 340Bs also had the active noise control system. 200 units were built. The final third generation version, the 340B Plus, was delivered for service in 1994 and incorporated improvements that were being introduced at the same time in the Saab 2000 100 units were built. The production run of Saab 340s typically seated between 30 and 36 passengers, with 34 seats being the most common configuration. The last two 340s built were constructed as older configuration 36-seat aircraft for Japan Air Commuter.
One of the improvements introduced in the 340B Plus was the installation of an active noise and vibration control system in the cabin, reducing noise and vibration levels by about 10 dB during cruising flight. This optional feature carried over from the 340B was standard in the 340B plus along with extended wingtips which was an option on the 340B+. Another change from earlier models was a more modern interior design and the moving of the lavatory compartment from the aft of the passenger cabin to just aft of the flight deck in most 3rd generation units. This increased total available cargo volume as the original location intruded into the cargo bin area. While the active soundproofing became standard on all Saab 340Bs in 1994 the first ever 340B Plus with the extended wingtips was delivered new to Hazelton Airlines in Australia in 1995, later operating for Regional Express, and currently for the Japanese Coast Guard. All 25 3rd generation units that were originally delivered under lease to American Eagle (now on lease to Regional Express) also have the extended wingtips.
The military variants are the Saab 340AEW, 340AEW-200 & 340AEW-300, which are airborne early warning (AEW) and airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft. Production of all 340 models ended in 1999, and Saab ceased all civil aircraft production in 2005.
As of May 2008, Saab Aircraft AB reports there were 416 Saab 340s in service with 61 operators in 30 countries having accumulated over 13 million flight hours on 14.5 million flights. The workhorse of the fleet (028) with 49,678 hours alone with the Australian unit (016) coming in at second.
Nine SAAB 340s have been written off in accidents, 6 of them without fatalities.
The active fleet of current operators
Regional Express Airlines has committed to lease 25 Saab 340B+ aircraft in the largest lease deal for the type, which has a redesigned extended wing to increase flight performance and fuel efficiency. They should enter service over the next three to four years. With the delivery of these 340B+'s. The Saab 340A's and some older 340B's will be phased out, 3 of the 340As will be converted into freighters. First Delivery was in May 2007. As of September 2008, 15 have been delivered. These B+ aircraft, all formerly in service with American Eagle, will all be delivered in 2009.
Published - July 2009
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