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Avro RJ85 / BAe 146

British Aerospace Company manufactured three aircraft that are used by regional carriers. They are: BAE Jetstream 31, ATF and the BAE 146. The 31 is the smallest and it carries 18-19 passengers. The 146 is the largest and it carries 82-93. The BAe-146 family, which includes the Avro RJ and the cancelled RJX, is likely to remain Britain's most succesful jet transport program, with 395 built.

The BAe 146 is a short haul jet of which 221 were built between 1983 and 1992, when production shifted to the Avro RJ. in passenger, pure freighter and quick change versions. Three sizes of aircraft are available all powered by Honeywell ALF502-R5 engines and spanning seating capacities from 70 to 112 seats. From 1987, aircraft feature EFIS displays. With 97% commonality of equipment and systems, the BAe 146 offers a true family of interchangeable aircraft for efficient fleet planning. In additional to competitive economics and outstanding performance, the BAe 146 is among the quietest and cleanest aircraft in its class.

Special methods were developed in 1982 to certificate the BAe 146 for operations by a minimum crew of two pilots to the requirements of JAR 25.1523. The method was based primarily on subjective assessment of workload but employed objective data to support that assessment. All the data were collected from one flying phase and no flight or ground simulator assessments were performed, neither were the results correlated with any previous evaluation. In this respect, the evaluation of the BAe 146 was unique among civil workload certification programs.

The BAe146 and the RJ 70/80/100 have the same wing, and they are oddities among current commercial airliners. The wing has less sweep than its competitors, and cruise speed is consequently lower. These are the only current high-wing turbofan-powered airliners, and they are among the few without a leading-edge device (old DC-9s and F28s have no leading-edge devices). The BAe 146 wing leading edge is fairly blunt, and despite having no leading-edge device, the BAe146 is a STOL airplane with a very low landing speed. The BAe 146/RJ70/80/100 airplanes all have the same high-lift system. This example shows that, by making the trailing-edge device really powerful, the need for a leading-edge device disappears. The technology could be applied to future small, short-range aircraft, but the concept will not work quite so well on low-wing airplanes.

Worth noting, for British Aerospace, the BAe-146 line was not the company's first regional jet to operate in the US That distinction belonged to the popular BAC 1-11, a twin engine jet, initially with 56 to 69 seats, which was launched in the US by Mohawk Airlines in 1965 and later operated by other carriers such as Allegheny and American Airlines.

AVRO 146-RJ RJ-70 / RJ-85 / RJ-100

The Avro RJ is the short haul jet successor to the BAe 146. In addition to the 221 BAe 146 aircraft built between 1983 and 1992. 170 Avro RJ aircraft were built up to programme closure in 2001 making it the most successful British civil jet programme ever. The Avro RJ introduced updated Honeywell LF507 engines, increased design weights, a redesigned 'Spaceliner' cabin and digital flight deck featuring CAT3A autoland. As with the BAe 146, the family is available in three sizes spanning 70 to 112 seats and retains the competitive economics, outstanding performance and quiet clean characteristics that facilitate access to a wide range of demanding city center airfields such as London City.

The wide Avro RJ cabin permits numerous seat combinations providing excellent flexibility to match specific service levels in segregated markets. The basic economy class 6-abreast passenger seating matches 737 standards whilst 4-abreast and 5-abreast introduce premium class options. Large underfloor holds, forward and aft of the wing, provide excellent volume for checked bags and additional cargo. RJ features four Type 1 exit doors. Forward and aft service doors on the right hand side and passenger doors on the left hand side, ensure speedy turnrounds and offer the distinct benefit of multiple emergency exit possibilities for passengers.

Structural simplicity of the Avro RJ airframe is based on the BAe146 and has been achieved using one piece components wherever possible. Integral machining of components such as wing spars and frames leads to enhanced structural efficiency. The structures and systems, initially cleared to 40,000 cycles/hours on the BAe146 are currently being extended to 80,000 cycles/hours, further underscoring the quality of the original design.

The design philosophy behind the Avro RJ flying control system takes into consideration the need for simple, yet effective, system layout. Aileron and elevator control is fully manual, although hydraulically powered controls are used where appropriate. The very efficient high lift wing renders leading edge devices unnecessary. The aircraft has one piece flaps with no cutouts for jet efflux.

The AVRO RJ is powered by four Honeywell LF507-1F high bypass engines of modular design. The engines feature low fuel burns, low noise levels, low emissions and the Avro RJ requires no reverse thrust. The engines are maintained using on condition maintenance principles. Ease of on-wing inspection is complemented by simplicity and speed of engine removal.

Airframe rotable spares provisioning and repair and overhaul programs for the BAe 146 can be tailored to the needs and capabilities of individual operators through fixed cost pay by the hour packages. For a fixed hourly payment, Honeywell, the engine manufacturer, will undertake all engine maintenance on behalf of an operator over an agreed period (excluding line labor). The criteria for acceptance of an engine into the program includes the operator's onwing maintenance capability, a pre-enrolment inspection and the engine modification status.

In 1990 British Aerospace first offered the improved RJ70 and RJ80, both of which were based on the 146-100. They would have seated 70 and 80 passengers respectively, but these two designs matured in the Avro RJ70 (officially Avro 146-RJ70) with improved FADEC equipped LF-507 engines and digital avionics. The RJ series was manufactured and marketed by Avro International Aerospace, a separate British Aerospace company, so named as RJ production was undertaken at the former Avro factory near Manchester (most 146s were built at Hatfield).

Aerospatiale, Alenia and British Aerospace were one-third partners in AI(R), or Aero International (Regional), the partnership formed in 1996 which made the BAe-146 line of 3 regional jets, under the name Avro RJs. The "Avro" name was given because the RJs were built at the old Avro plant -- there was some corporate maneuvering over an international collaboration involved in the "name games", but whatever the details, in the end the AVRO RJ jetliners were still BAE Systems products.

The Avro line of 4-engine regional jets was the successor to the former BAe-146 line of jets. The Avro RJ series were upgraded developments of the BAe-146 family, and like the 146 was built in three fuselage length variants, the RJ70, RJ85 and RJ100. There was little change in external appearance and it is difficult to tell an Avro RJ apart from its BAE 146 equivalent. The RJ-70 is the modern equivalent of the BAe146-100 series, the RJ-85 replaces the BAe146-200 and the RJ-100 replaces the larger BAe146-300. Each of the new Avro jets had advanced modern avionics and more efficient, quieter engines than their 146 predecessors, some of which were 15 years old in late 1992 when the Avro line was introduced.

Unlike most new regional jets with 3 or 4-abreast seating, the Avro line has 5 or 6 abreast seating and was generally seen as a replacement for small, older mainline jets such as early model DC-9s. The 146-200 based Avro RJ85 was the first member of the new family to fly, on March 23 1992. The biggest member of the family, the 146-300 based RJ100, first flew on May 13 1992. The 146-100 based RJ70 was delivered from late 1993 but due to low customer interest, only 12 were sold. RJ improvements over the 146 include more reliable and efficient FADEC equipped AlliedSignal (now Honeywell) LF-507 engines, new "Spaceliner" cabin interior and a digital flightdeck. Weight and drag savings were introduced in 1996. The RJ-85 cost was approximately $25.9 million and the RJ-100's, $28.4 million. Avro's 1997 regional jet orders were up 52%, including 25 Avro RJ-85s and 7 Avro RJ-100s.

The mid-size RJ-85 has a range of 1500 nautical miles (nm). It can take off on a "short" runway of 3,920 feet and land on a strip 4,260 feet long. The RJ-85's high-performance characteristics allow operations into airports with steep approaches as well as those at higher altitudes such as Aspen. The larger RJ-100, which can hold up to 112 passengers, has a range of 1,400 nm. The RJ100 was also offered as the RJ115 with extra emergency exits to seat 116 to 128 in a high density six abreast configuration. None were built however. AI(R) had planned to launch a line of smaller regional jets to compete in the 50-70 seat market, but in December 1997 decided to forgo the $1 billion development costs associated with the program and avoid direct competition with Bombardier and Embraer, established manufacturers in this segment of the RJ market. The project was set to offer a 70-seat jet, followed by a 58-seat version and finally a stretch version. It was hoped the first delivery would be in 2001. Subsequent plans for a partnership with Taiwan Aerospace, which would have seen the RJ series built in Taiwan fell through and Avro subsequently became part of AI(R) to handle marketing, sales and support of British Aerospace (Avro and Jetstream) and ATR commercial aircraft.

The partnership announced it was dissolving its aircraft consortium with the Avro jet program reverting to BA Regional Aircraft Ltd. and the ATR turboprop program becoming Aerospatiale-ATR. AI(R) disbanded in mid 1998 and the Avro RJ range became again a British Aerospace (later BAE Systems) product. The Avro regional jet family captured more than 30% of the world's 70-120 seat jet market.


The RJX program was formally launched in 2000, using the new Honeywell AS977 turbofan which was to improve thrust by 5%, fuel economy by 15%, overall engine operating costs by 20% and provide lower noise levels and emissions. The RJX series would have up to 17% longer range and lower empty weight. The RJX program was axed on 27 November 2001. That ended production of the BAE 146 family at 394 aircraft.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:51:52 ZULU