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Good Progress being made on Re-Launched BAe 146QT Freighter Programme


BAE Systems Regional Aircraft announces that good progress is now being made with the conversion of the first re-launched BAe 146QT (Quiet Trader) freighter. According to David van Veggel, BAE Systems Regional Aircraft’s Programme Manager, the project is on schedule and the first converted aircraft – a Series 200 (msn E2099) - is expected to be completed in early-mid-2008.

This follows the programme launch at the end of January and confirmation in March of Aerostar of Bacau, Romania as the conversion centre for the programme.

Intensive marketing of the 10-12 tonne BAe 146QT is now underway. Regional Aircraft is talking to potential customers across five continents that are looking seriously at the aircraft to service the lower volume regional freighter routes that are too small for the 15-tonne Boeing 737 Classic conversions and too large for the 8-tonne turboprops.

Mr van Veggel, who is based in Bacau, stated today: “Initial planning at Aerostar was concentrated on training with both classroom and on the job training undertaken by BAE Systems instructors. In addition, aircraft ground support equipment and aircraft manuals had to be positioned at Bacau.

“Once this had been completed and following an audit by the Romanian civil aviation authorities, EASA Part 135 approval for the BAe 146 was granted to the company. This authorisation meant that work on the first conversion aircraft could commence. In addition, Aerostar engineers have been creating the production process that lies behind each of the different procedures involved in the conversion”, he said.

A similar process has been underway at Aerostar’s nominated subcontractor, Avioane Craoiva, which is the company responsible for the manufacture of the Large Freight Door and the door surrounds as well as the 9G bulkhead, the floor strengthening, the E-Class interior and associated hardware.

Mr van Veggel added: “A manufacturing cell has now been established at Craiova with two Large Freight Door jigs in position. Test programmes have been successfully carried out for the NC machine manufacture of large items such as door hinges, and having been passed as acceptable first time, production manufacture of these items has now begun. Three sets of kits of parts are now being built at the same time with delivery of the full manufactured kits of parts from Craiova to Aerostar scheduled for next February.”

Inside the first conversion aircraft at Bacau, all passenger equipment and services are being stripped out from the fuselage to bring it back to a clean hull, ready to start the conversion process. On the exterior of the aircraft, paint stripping around the window areas and also around the Large Freight Door structure area has started, so that the original rivet pitches can be identified.

The re-launched BAe 146QT will follow in the footsteps of the 29 BAe 146QT/QC freighters that remain in service after conversion from the production line in the mid-late 1980s.

The biggest operators are TNT Express, which uses a large fleet on an intensive overnight European schedule from its Liege hub in Belgium, and Australian air Express, which flies three aircraft on overnight operations linking key centres in eastern and southern Australia.

Also operating the aircraft are Titan Airways in the UK, which has a number of overnight post office contracts and West Air Sweden, which initially used its recently-acquired aircraft on the longer distance Norwegian postal service routes.


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