Cobham buys 146 jets for Australian mining shuttle service

 - February 22, 2011, 9:15 AM

Cobham Aviation Services Australia is buying a pair of BAE 146s that it currently leases from the asset management division of BAE Systems. The company has a fleet of 17 BAE 146s and Avro RJs that it uses to provide corporate shuttles for several mining companies and for carry freight at night.

As well as buying the 146-100 and larger -300, Cobham also recently added four more examples of the out-of-production 146/Avro RJ series to its fleet. The -100 will be used to access gravel and unprepared strips that allow clients to get their personnel to more remote mines. The aircraft’s high wing and engine architecture make it suitable for this type of operation and BAE’s engineering division fits each aircraft with deflectors to repel stones and other foreign objects, as well as other protective measures such as rubberized paints and meshes to cover lights.

Separately, UK-based executive charter operator Titan Airways has bought an Avro RJ100 to add to its fleet of four 146s. The RJ100 features quick-change seating to allow for configurations ranging from 110 passengers in six-abreast economy class accommodation to a mix of 55 business class seats, and 43 in the coach section.

Meanwhile, BAE has yet to secure a launch customer for either the Explorer or Fusion special executive cabin packages that it introduced in late 2009. The company claims that the cabin refurbishment options, which it offers in partnership with Design Q and Inflite, have generated a lot of interest from prospective customers. It intends to unveil up to three more sets of interior options for the out-of-production regional jetliners this year.

There are now approximately 25 BAE 146s and Avro RJs in various corporate and VIP applications around the world. The UK-based group markets the four-engine models under the brand Avro Business Jets.