The asset management team of BAE Systems Regional Aircraft announced a number of new initiatives as well as several new transactions.
- A new Trading and Services unit will offer the skills the asset management team developed in reviving the market for BAe 146s to a wider aviation market. The new unit will offer four key services: aircraft re-marketing and trading; finance services; lease management services; and technical services. The asset management team has extensive experience in each of these areas, having successfully BAE Systems’ own portfolio of 146s and RJs as well as several aircraft remarketed on behalf of others, arranged for lease financing, and developed a variety of technical improvements, including fleet-wide modifications and customization of individual aircraft. Several new re-marketing and trading business arrangements were announced, covering both 146s and other BAe types.
- A program of flight deck upgrades is being undertaken, with the aim of enhancing the BAe 146’s competitive position, keeping it abreast of new regulations, and improving reliability. New solid state altimeters are being introduced — replacing the existing Smiths 3B servo altimeters — to comply with new European regulations on Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM), and the Honeywell Aerospace Mk.VII Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) has been chosed as the preferred equipment to comply with Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (TAWS) regulations. New gyros, a new weather radar with an LCD display, and LCD displays for non-EFIS aircraft will help improve equipment reliability. In addition, several options are being examined to give the BAe 146 a Cat.3 landing capability, including fitting a modified version of the Avro RJ Honeywell Digital Flight Guidance System (DFGS ‘Lite’), or developing a Head-Up Guidance system solution. The latter solution, involving a Visual Guidance System (VGS) from Rochester is most likely to be adopted, as it offers a relatively straightforward ‘bolt-on’ solution that requires fewer aircraft system modifications. The VGS would offer a 50ft decision height/200m runway visual range capability and a 75m runway visual range for take-off. The system has already been selected by American Airlines and Sun Country Airlines for use in the Boeing 737-800s. These upgrades will be offered both individually and as an integrated package. In the latter form, the avionics upgrade program is likely to cost about US$600,000 per aircraft, while the VGS Cat.3 system would cost about $500,000 per aircraft. Some of the avionics upgrades will be available 12-15 months from program launch, while fitting of VGS equipment could begin in late 2001.
In announcing these initiatives, BAE Systems reiterated its faith in the competitiveness of the BAe 146, Avro RJ, and Avro RJX. BAE Systems believes that the 146/RJ/RJX family, with its quietness, cabin comfort, and exceptional short-field capabilities, is well-positioned to meet the challenge of new regional jet models. BAE Systems anticipates several existing BAe 146 operators to turn over their fleets to Avro RJ models (as Braathens Malmö Aviation is doing), with the older models becoming available to new customers. BAE Systems is targeting several potential new customers in Central Europe, the Balkans, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean area, the Maghreb countries, and Southern Africa. The vitality of the BAe 146 market was further demonstrated by the new announcement of several new leases, including the lease of two more series 200s to CityJet; the lease of an additional series 300 to British European, as well as an extension of the lease on a series 200; and the lease of a series 200QC to Titan.