The last BAe 146 being worked on at Woodford is nearing completion. This is, ironically, not a new-build aircraft, but a modification of the very first BAe 146 built. BAe 146 msn E3001 was built as the 146 prototype, msn E1001, in 1981, then modified to serve as the series 300 prototype in 1987. She is now being converted into an atmospheric research aircraft (ARA). Once completeted, she will begin a 10-year contract with the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurement (FAAM), which has been established by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Atmospheric Science in partnership with the Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF) Aircraft Consortium (representing aircraft users) and the UK’s Meteorological Office. Modifications to E3001 include additional fuel tanks to enhance range; external radiometer blisters on the front port fuselage and the rear fuselage; two LIDAR laser apertures in the upper and lower rear fuselage; two wing pylons each supporting up to four scientific equipment canisters; air sampling and sensing equipment in the upper forward fuselage; various avionic upgrades; and capability for operations up to 35,000 feet. The ARA will have facilities for up to 18 scientific crew and a Mission Scientist, but the normal crew complement will probably be around ten.
Recent news items on FAAM:
- FAAM BAe 146ARA test-flies optical ice detection probe (2017-07-04)
- FAAM BAe 146ARA flies in formation … with a ship (2016-09-15)
- FAAM BAe 146ARA operator Directflight changes name (2016-05-29)
- NERC buys FAAM BAe 146 (2014-04-02)
- FAAM BAe 146 to operate in the arctic (2013-03-19)