BAE Systems considers launching Avro RJ freighter conversion program

Avro RJ100 Freighter

Impression of an Avro RJ100 Freighter (BAE Systems Regional Aircraft)

BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is considering launching a new passenger to freighter program for the Avro RJ, aimed particularly at the RJ100. With Swiss, Brussels Airlines, and Braathens Regional Airlines (BRA) all planning to withdraw their RJ100 fleets in the next few years, there will be a large supply of well-maintained examples available at low prices. An RJ100 freighter would carry up to 14 tonnes of cargo, fitting neatly between the 7 tonne capacity of large turboprop freighters and the 18 tonne capacity of Boeing 737 freighters. Although the RJ100 is dimensionally similar to the BAe 146-300, the freighter version would carry 1.5 tonnes more than the 12.5 tonne BAe 146-300QT, while also offering improved economics and greater operational flexibility. An RJ100 conversion would use essentially the same door as the earlier BAe 146QT freighter program, with minor modifications to accommodate the slightly different build standard on the RJ100 and more modern actuation mechanisms. The door itself would be manufactured in the United Kingdom, the tooling having been brought back from Romania, where a short-lived conversion program for the BAe 146 was attempted in 2007-2011. The initial conversions would be performed by BAE Systems itself, in Prestwick, but subsequent conversions could be contracted out to MROs. BAE Systems reports that several operators have indicated an interest. A firm order for 10 examples would be required for BAE Systems to launch the program. Assuming a launch in November, the first conversions could be completed by the end of 2017. The same conversion could also be applied to RJ85s, which would have a lower capacity but be capable of operating into unpaved runways.

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