Saab 340 / Saab 2000
The Saab 340 is a Swedish twin-engined turboprop aircraft.The Saab 340 Cityliner, with its 33-seat capacity, is a passenger aircraft operated on secondary air routes with moderate traffic volume. It offers a means of providing scheduled air services to regions where current demand would not warrant the deployment of larger aircraft. Despite its small size, the Cityliner has all the facilities one would expect of an aircraft today, including advanced avionics and a fully-equipped galley.
The story of the Saab 340 is characterized as the best selling and most successful 30-seater ever built. The Saab 340 can provide performance qualities that allow operations in hot and high environments and enable short field operations. Because of its exceptional fuel-efficiency, contributing to the accomplishment of having about half the operating costs of a regional jet, the Saab 340 can offer service to a considerable variety of markets. The Saab 340 offers seating configurations between 30 and 36 business class seats in a quiet, spacious and comfortable cabin and cruises at a fast 285 knots. Due to its flexibility, comfort and reliable performance, the Saab 340 has become a favorite among airline passengers. The Saab 340 is currently available in six different versions: airliner, VIP, corporate, cargo, maritime patrol and airborne early warning & command.
The Saab 340 has not only been the backbone of many successful passenger and cargo operations serving niche markets around the world, but it has also served as a spring board for several of the larger regional airlines still in service serving domestic markets. The Saab 340 prototype took its first flight near the manufacturer's Linköping facility. Flying with Air Midwest colors on the starboard side and Crossair on the port side to honor the US and European launch customers respectively, the Saab 340 flight took place on January 25, 1983. The year 1984 marked the inaugural flight of the Saab 340 into revenue service. Although it was not the first Saab 340 in revenue flight services (see SMR August 2005), Saab 340A serial number 004 was the first production Saab 340 to roll off the assembly lines in Linköping, Sweden. (Serial Numbers 001, 002 and 003 were test aircraft.)
In July 2006 Regional Express and Saab Aircraft Leasing reached an agreement covering five aircraft, which will see Rex add one leased Saab 340B plus extend its existing leases for four Saab 340B aircraft. Regional Express (Rex), the largest independent regional airline in Australia, has reached an agreement with Saab Aircraft Leasing to enter into a 5-year lease agreement for one Saab 340B aircraft as well as a corresponding extension to its existing four Saab 340B leases. The airline is well known for its affordable fares, reliability and On Time Performance and frequent service from Australia's south eastern major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide to 25 regional destinations.. The airline is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Rex has steadily expanded its Saab 340 fleet and is now one of the largest 340 operators in the world with over 30 aircraft. The airline has initiated the phase out of its 19-seat Metro 23s which will be replaced by Saab 340s before the end of the year, thereby achieving further cost benefits as a single fleet Saab 340 operator.
In April 2007 Estonian Airlines, the national carrier of the Republic of Estonia and part of the SAS Group, signed a contract with Saab Aircraft Leasing for the lease of two Saab 340s. The aircraft will join its fleet in May and September to commence scheduled flights from the airline´s Tallinn Airport base. The Saab 340s will replace Estonian Airlines larger 50-seat Fokker 50s and become the mainstay complement to the airline´s six-strong Boeing 737-500 fleet.
The Saab 340 executive aircraft has proven to be as dependable and economically attractive as it is with the airlines of today. Whether used for charter contracts to favorite vacation destinations or in the private sector as a means of bypassing the world's busier airports and delays associated with them, Saab's quality of reliable service and its high level of customer support provides the basis for successful operations in the future. In both the passenger and cargo operations, by late 2008 the Saab 340 maintained a leading position in the 30-seat market with nearly 40 Saab 340A models used as cargo aircraft. The Saab 340 fleet had passed the 13 million flight hour mark with 414 aircraft flying with 60 operators in 31 countries.
In November 2007, Saab Aircraft Leasing [SAL] was awarded a contract by the Argentine Air Force for the supply of Saab 340B aircraft beginning in 2008. The Saab 340B will be their new medium transport aircraft and will provide scheduled air service to small remote communities in Patagonia where air service by commercial airlines is not economically viable. The Saab 340B will replace the Fokker F27s which have been used by the Argentine Air Force for the remote community service for over 30 years. For SAL gaining this contract was an important event, as it reinforces our strategy to expand our market into the government arena. In recent years Saab has supplied aircraft to the Japanese Coast Guard as well as the Swedish Air Force.
Saab Aircraft Leasing, in cooperation with Saab Aerotech, won an approximately $34 million USD contract from the Argentine Air Force to buy four Saab 340Bs. The total budget for the aircraft and logistic support package will be spread over five years with the aircraft deliveries scheduled during 2008 and 2009. The deal is the culmination of a four-year process to select a new middle-size transport aircraft for the Argentine Air Force. The Saab 340Bs will be used to serve remote areas in the Patagonia region in southern Argentina, replacing old Fokker F27s. The Argentine Air Force ran an international RFP process in order to select the best package of aircraft and support services. Saab Aircraft Leasing was declared winner of this process and the two parties formalized a final agreement that includes four completely overhauled Saab 340B aircraft, together with a complete logistic package of spares, manuals, tools, ground support equipment, training of pilots and mechanics, Saab on-location technical support as well as a "Parts Exchange Program" on the rotables, including propeller and landing gear.
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