BAE Systems in Avro RJX order bind

The Avro RJX might not have amassed a large order book, but the orders it did attract are now proving a headache for BAE Systems. The manufacturer’s abrupt cancellation of the RJX program at the end of November leaves it unable to fulfill its contractual obligations with either Druk Air, who had ordered two RJX-85s, or British European, who had ordered twelve RJX-100s, with eight options. In announcing the cancellation of the RJX program, BAE Systems had indicated that it would build the fourteen RJXs on order if Druk and British European wanted them. Both airlines are now considering their options. The RJX cancellation is a particular problem for Druk, as the 146/RJ are the only jets able to operate into its home airport at Paro. Its two 146-100s, however, do not have the range to operate its key route to Bangkok non-stop, and are often weight-limited. The RJX-85 would have provided the airline with both greater capacity and greater range. No other type can offer both. The new Embraer 170 would presumably have the capability to operate into Paro, but its capacity is the same as the 146-100. For British European, the problem is also serious, though somewhat less drastic. The RJX would have been perfect for British European’s London City routes, as well as its profitable charter operations into restricted airports. In the meantime, BAE Systems has resumed the RJX test program, in case either British European or Druk should decide to take delivery of the aircraft they ordered.

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