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British Aerospace BAe 146-100

Aircraft overview:

The BAe 146 was built by British Aerospace as a short-haul airliner/regional jet. The BAe 146 has a high monoplane wing with a T-tail configuration and four turbofan engines. A total of 221 were built between 1983 and 1992.

The BAe 146 Whisper Jet continued the jet airliner pioneering heritage from the de Havilland Comet, though the Hawker Siddeley Trident to the BAe.146 designed to bring jet airliner operations to less sophisticated services. Approval was given by the Board of Hawker Siddeley Aviation, who had taken over de Havilland in December 1959, for the four engine high wing HS.146 in April 1971. Having started the programme as a private venture, spiralling inflation caused Hawker Siddeley to stop work on the aircraft in October 1974. Fortunately due to strenuous efforts by the trade unions and strong political lobbying, the project was put on hold, and research continued on a limited basis to keep options open for a re-launch. Meanwhile, with the Government nationalisation of Britain’s aerospace industry, British Aerospace was formed in March 1977, bringing together the aerospace interests of BAC, HSA and Scottish Aviation, and the BAe.146 was re-launched in July 1978.

Participation in the programme was widely spread with not only American made Textron Lycoming ALF-502 fan engines, but the wings were supplied by Avco Aerostructures in the USA, tailplane from Saab in Sweden, and other major assemblies from around BAe UK factories. Design, nose build final assembly, development and marketing were all based at Hatfield. The first BAe.146 was flown for the first time from Hatfield on 3 September 1981. From the original 70 seat 146-100 ordered by Dan-Air, the fuselage was stretched to seat 85 passengers in the 146-200, first ordered by Air Wisconsin in May 1981. There was a further fuselage stretch with the 100 seat 146-300, and there was a double celebration at Hatfield on 1 May 1987 when the 146.300 made its maiden flight and the New Assembly Hall was formally opened. Other variations on the BAe.146 theme included a pure freighter with a cargo door in the rear cabin ordered by TNT, and a Quick Change version, which could carry passengers during the day, and freight at night. BAe.146s have now found a significant new niche market as fire bombers.

With the substantial commitment for over-night freighters by TNT, it was decided to open a second assembly line at the old Avro factory at Woodford with first deliveries in 1988. With over 200 BAe.146s world-wide, the original concept being a simple robust airliner, the market called for technological advances including autoland and ‘glass’ flight deck EFIS instrumentation. Improvements were sufficient to re-designate the aircraft the RJ family.

Due to the recession experienced by the airline industry in the early 1990s, which followed the relative boom of the mid 1980s, the decision was announced on 12 February 1992 to transfer all BAe.146 final assembly to Woodford. As the economy continued to worsen, the final decision was announced on 23 September 1992 to cease all aircraft design and production at Hatfield by the end of 1993, leaving the historic site in the hands of developers. The RJ concept was continued at Woodford, with many of the Hatfield staff transferred there, but the airline business continued to suffer, and the new RJX programme was cancelled during early development and the site closed for development in 2011.

BAe.146-100 c/n 1010 made its first flight from Hatfield on 8 November 1983 with the test registration G-BKXZ. It was delivered to TABA of Brazil on 8 December 1983 as PT-LEP, but was stored in June 1985. It was then operated by Royal West Airlines as N802RW from 18 June 1986, going to Sunworld International Airlines in September 1987. On 25 August 1988 it passed to Air Nova as C-GNVX and then Air BC on 20 January 1989. A return was made to Britain on 4 May 1989 with Air UK, as G-UKPC, passing to Jersey European Airways as G-JEAO on 20 September 1994, later operating in BA colours. It was stored at Filton in 2009 and parted out, the fuselage being transported to the Museum on 27 July 2009, where it has been fully refurbished internally by the volunteers.

Philip Birtles, February 2016.

Aircraft specifications:

Power Unit: 4 x 6,700 lb (30 kN) Textron Lycoming ALF 502R-3s or 4 x 6,970 lb (31 kN) ALF 502R-5 turbofans.

Wing Span: 86 ft (26.2 m)

Length: 93 ft 10 in (28.6 m)

Max Take-off Weight: 84,000 lb (38,102 kg)

Cruise Speed: 477 mph (767 kph)

Range: 1,864 miles (3,000 km)

Passengers: 70 to 112

On display at the Museum:

The Museum’s exhibit, registration G-JEAO, first entered service in November 1983 and spent its last flying time with British Aerospace. It was delivered to the Museum in July 2009 and the fuselage and tricycle undercarriage are currently undergoing preservation.