BAE Systems explores BAe 146 freighter options

BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is exploring new freighter variants of the BAe 146. As with other aircraft types, falling residual values as the aircraft age make freight conversion attractive. The 146’s legendary quietness makes the type particularly well suited for the nocturnal freight market, and there are few other options in its 11-13 tonne size range. During the 1980s, fourteen series 200s and ten series 300s were built as QT freighters, and five series 200s were built as QC quick-change models. All were fitted with a large aft cargo door by Pemco World Air Services, of Dothan, Alabama. This option is now once again on offer. It includes the installation of a large 3.33×1.93m upward-opening freight door in the rear fuselage and of a roller floor and associated cargo handling equipment. In addition, the possibility of offering a smaller door suitable for taking Europallets (0.79×1.20m) in the forward fuselage is being studied, as is the option of converting the interiors alone, with freight being loaded through the existing passenger door using trolleys. Other studies are also underway aimed at making the 146 more attractive in a variety of markets. Fitting the belly tanks designed by Cranfield Aerospace for the BAe 146-300 Atmospheric Research Aircraft program would increase range by up to 400nm, making the 146 more appealing to the corporate aircraft and special mission aircraft markets. Further afield, BAE Systems is investigating water-bombing and oil dispersal versions, building on design work done for the BAe 748 in the water-bombing role.

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