Druk Air places first Avro RJX order

Druk Air (Royal Bhutan Airlines) has placed the first order for the new Avro RJX derivative of the BAe 146 and Avro RJ with an order for two Avro RJX-85s. Deliveries of the two aircraft are scheduled for November 2001 and January 2002. Druk Air already operates two BAe 146-100s. The BAe 146-100 was the airline’s first jet aircraft. Its choice was dictated by the exceptionally difficult operating conditions at the airport at Bhutan’s capital, Paro. Paro is located at 7,300 ft above sea level in a deep valley in the Himalayas, and is surrounded by hills as high as 16,000 ft. The BAe 146 and its successors remain the only jet aircraft capable of operating at Paro. The RJX-85 will pick up the mantle from Druk Air’s 146-100s, providing both greater capacity and extended range, allowing non-stop services to Bangkok (currently served via Calcutta or Dhaka) and Hong Kong. Druk Air’s RJX-85s will be fitted in a two-class, 82-seat configuration. Druk Air Chairman, H.E. Leki Dorji, cited the Avro RJX’s “superior performance, its improved fuel efficiency and its ability to carry a greater load, especially in the summer months” as the reasons for selecting it. “There are just two ways to get to Paro — by road or with Druk Air”, he continued. “We have a vital role in the economy of Bhutan, carrying passengers and freight to and from neighbouring countries. Our British-built jets have been an essential part of our success and we are delighted to be continuing our partnership with BAE Systems Regional Aircraft.” Although there was some speculation that the “X” would be dropped from the model name once the aircraft was launched, BAE Systems has now confirmed that “Avro RJX” will be the formal model name, with sub-models being designated RJX-70, RJX-85, and RJX-100. BAE Systems is quoting a September 2001 entry into service date for the RJX, suggesting that another airline will take the first delivery. This order brings the combined BAe 146/Avro RJ/Avro RJX orderbook to 375.

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