The British Aerospace BAe 146 (also BAe 146) is a short-haul and regional airliner that was manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace, later part of BAE Systems. The aircraft is capable of transporting up to 112 passengers.
History and Features
Production ran from 1983 until 2002. Manufacture of an improved version known as the Avro RJ began in 1992. With 387 aircraft produced, the Avro RJ/BAe 146 is the most successful British civil jet airliner programme.
The BAe 146/Avro RJ is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a T-tail. It has four turbofan engines mounted on pylons underneath the wings, and has 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 such as London City Airport. In its primary role, it serves as a regional jet, short-haul airliner, or regional airliner, while examples of the type are also in use as private jets.
The BAe 146/Avro RJ is in wide use with several European-based carriers such as CityJet. The largest operator of the type, Swiss Global Air Lines, retired its last RJ100 in August 2017.
The BAe 146 was produced in -100, -200 and -300 models. The equivalent Avro RJ versions are designated RJ70, RJ85, and RJ100. The freight-carrying version carries the designation “QT” (Quiet Trader), and a convertible passenger-or-freight model is designated as “QC” (Quick Change). A “gravel kit” can be fitted to aircraft to enable operations from rough, unprepared airstrips.
British Aerospace promoted the BAe 146 to airlines as a “feederliner” and short-haul regional airliner. The airframe of the aircraft and many other key areas were designed to be as simple as possible. The engines lack thrust reversers due to their perceived reduced effectiveness in anticipated conditions. Instead, the BAe 146 features a large airbrake with two petals below the tail rudder at the rear of the fuselage, which has the advantage of being usable during flight and allowing for steep descent rates if required. In addition, the aircraft has full-width wing spoilers, which are deployed immediately on landing.
The aircraft proved to be useful on “high-density” regional and short-haul routes. In economy class, the BAe 146 can either be configured in a standard five-abreast layout or a high-density six-abreast layout, making it one of few regional jets that can use a six-abreast layout in economy class. Reportedly, the aircraft is profitable on most routes with only marginally more than half the seats occupied.
The BAe 146 is also renowned for its relatively quiet operation, a positive feature that appealed to those operators that wanted to provide services to noise-sensitive 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 steep approach and short runway; for several years, the BAe 146 was the only conventional jet aircraft capable of flying from London City Airport.
According to the BAe 146’s chief designer, Bob Grigg, making the aircraft as easy to maintain as possible and keeping operators’ running costs as low as possible were considered high priorities from the start of the design process. Grigg highlighted factors such as design simplicity, using off-the-shelf components where possible, and the internal use of firm cost targets and continuous monitoring. British Aerospace also adopted a system of cost guarantees between component suppliers and the operators of the BAe 146 to enforce stringent requirements.
Aircraft with similar capability or size are: Bombardier CRJ700 series, Embraer E-Jets, Fokker 28, Fokker 70, Fokker 100.