The BAe 146 is a medium-sized commercial aircraft which was manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace (which later became part of BAE Systems). Production ran from 1983 until 2002. Manufacture of the improved version known as the Avro RJ began in 1992. A further-improved version, the Avro RJX – with new engines – was announced in 1997, but only two prototypes and one production aircraft were built before production ceased in late 2001. With 387 aircraft produced, the Avro RJ/BAe 146 program is the most successful British civil jet programme.
The BAe 146/Avro RJ is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a T-tail, it has four turbofan jet engines engines pylon mounted underneath the wings. It has a retractable tricycle landing gear. The aircraft has very quiet operation, and has been marketed under the name Whisperjet. It sees wide usage at small city-based airports. In its primary role it serves as a regional jet, short-haul airliner or regional airliner. The BAe 146/Avro RJ is in wide use among European airlines, such as Brussels Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines and Lufthansa. The freight-carrying version has the designation "QT" (Quiet Trader), while a convertible version is designated "QC".
The BAe 146 comes in -100, -200 and -300 models. The equivalent Avro RJ versions are designated RJ70, RJ85, and RJ100.
Hawker Siddeley carried out the original design in 1973 using the designation HS.146, but soon abandoned the project as a result of the world economic downturn resulting from the 1973 oil crisis. Low-key development proceeded, however, and in 1978 British Aerospace, Hawker Siddeley's corporate successor, re-launched the project. The 146 type number comes from the original de Havilland designation sequence, which was continued by Hawker Siddeley when the former became a subsidiary of the latter. The type name "Avro RJ" superseded "BAe 146" in 1993.
The BAe 146 received its Certificate of Airworthiness on 8 February 1983.
The early aircraft were built at what was the original de Havilland factory at Hatfield. The Avro RJ family of aircraft was assembled at the BAE Systems Regional Aircraft Centre at the Avro Airfield at Woodford in England, with the rear fuselage section being manufactured at BAE Systems' former Avro site at Chadderton, near Oldham, Greater Manchester. The original Lycoming ALF 502 engines were replaced by the higher thrust, derivative Honeywell LF 507 turbofan engines with the development of the Avro RJ series, which were housed in redesigned nacelles. The Avro RJ series also had a slightly modernised cockpit. Production of this aircraft has ended, with the final four aircraft being delivered in October-November 2003. Many airlines are predicted to replace the Avro/BAe with the Airbus A318, Bombardier CRJ700 or one of the Embraer E-Jets range. 166 Avro RJ aircraft were delivered between 1993 and 2002.
The aircraft have proven to be useful on "high density" regional and short-haul routes. In economy class, the aircraft can either be configured in a standard five-abreast layout or a high-density 6-abreast layout, making it one of very few regional jets that can use a 6-abreast layout in economy class. The plane is also renowned for its relatively low noise generation, a positive feature which won the hearts of many operators who wanted to fly in and out of noise stringent airports within cities. The aircraft is one of only a few types that can be used on flights to London City Airport, which has a unique steep approach and a short runway.
The ALF 502 turbofans suffered from some reliability problems. The internal electronics were prone to overheating which could trigger an automatic shutdown of an engine with no option of in-flight restarting, and certain rare atmospheric conditions caused loss of engine thrust due to internal icing. In recent years, there have been cases where toxic fumes from engine oil have entered the air-conditioning system and entered the cockpit, adversely affecting the pilots.
BAe 146-100, Avro RJ70 & BAe 146 Statesman
First flight of the -100 occurred on 3 September 1981, with deliveries commencing in 1983. The launch customer in March 1983 was Dan-Air soon followed by the RAF's Royal Flight. The -100 was the last of the 146 series designs to be developed into the Avro RJ standard with first deliveries of the Avro RJ70 in late 1993. The RJ70 differed from the 146-100 in having FADEC LF 507 engines and digital avionics. The RJ70 seats 70 passengers five abreast, 82 six abreast or 94 in high-density configuration. The 146 is the first jet aircraft operated by the British Queen's Flight (later 32 (The Royal) Squadron), and entered service in 1986 after two aircraft were leased by the Royal Air Force for evaluation. The Queen's Flight acquired a total of three 146s, all fitted out with a luxurious bespoke interior. A complete spare interior was also ordered and held in storage at RAF Stafford. The aircraft are operated in a VIP configuration with a capacity of 19 passengers and 6 crew.
BAe 146-200 and Avro RJ85
The 146-200 features a 2.41 m (7 ft 11 in) fuselage extension and reduced cost per seat mile. The -200 first flew in August 1982 and entered service six months later. The RJ85, the first RJ development of the BAe 146 family, features an improved cabin and the more efficient LF 507 s. Deliveries of the RJ85 began in April 1993. The RJ85 seats up to 112 passengers.
BAe 146-300 and Avro RJ100
Designers' initial proposals for the -300, the final development of the 146 product line, included a 3.2 m extension to the fuselage of the -200, more powerful engines and winglets. However due to the requirements of airlines for higher efficiency rather than capacity the production 146-300 emerged as a 2.44 m stretch of the -200, without winglets or the proposed ALF 502R-7. Deliveries began in December 1988. The Avro version of the 146-300, the second such development of the 146 product line, became the RJ100. It shared the fuselage of the 146 version, but with interior, engine and avionics improvements. The most common configuration in the RJ100 seats 100 passengers. The RJ115 seats 116 as standard or up to a maximum of 128 in a high-density layout. A modified version 146-301 is used as a Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM).
BAe 146QT (Quiet Trader)
Convertible passenger/freight version.
Military transport version. This version also had a refuelling probe protruding beyond the nose. A prototype was displayed at the 1989 Paris Air Show but failed to receive any orders.
Avro RJX series
The RJX-70, RJX-85 and RJX-100 aircraft represented advanced variants of the Avro RJ Series. The RJX used Honeywell AS977 turbofans for greater efficiency (15% less fuel-burn, 17% increased range), quieter performance and 20% lower maintenance costs. Drukair of Bhutan placed orders for two RJX-85s, while British European placed firm orders for 12 RJX-100s and 8 options. However, BAE Systems terminated the project in December 2001, having completed and flown only three aircraft - a prototype each of the RJX-85 and RJX-100, and a production RJX-100 for British European. BAE reached an agreement with Druk Air and British European in early 2002 in which the airlines agreed not to enforce their firm orders for the RJX. BAE explored the possibility of manufacturing 14 "hybrid" aircraft, however British European at least was unwilling to accept the risk of operating a unique type.
The termination of the RJX project marked the end of commercial airliner production in the United Kingdom although key components, such as wing manufacture for Airbus aircraft, remains in the United Kingdom.
As of August 2008, a total of 140 BAE 146 aircraft (all variants) remain in airline service. Major operators include:
Some 17 other airlines also operate smaller numbers of the type.
As of August 2006, a total of 152 Avro RJ aircraft (all variants) also remain in airline service. Major operators include:
Some 12 other airlines also operate smaller numbers of the type.As of August 2007 LINUS Airways from Indonesia uses 2 BAe 146-200s Avro RJ for regular and commercial domestic flight.
The BAe-146/Avro RJ has been involved in seven hull-loss accidents with a total of 259 fatalities.
Specifications (BAe 146-200)
Published - July 2009
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