BAE Systems has come to the MEBA show on the back of an upsurge of interest in its Avro Business Jet (ABJ) during this year and is expected to report further progress at a press conference here this morning. Andy Whelan, director sales for BAE Systems Regional Aircraft (Stand No. 722), is to reveal the sale of an ABJ, based on the 146-200, to a European customer, while also confirming that the company is close to signing up a high-net-worth Middle East individual and a business jet operator from the United Arab Emirates. Both these aircraft will be based on the larger Avro RJ100.
The most recent ABJ deliveries in the region have been to the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF), which took delivery of a VVIP RJ100 in April, after it was converted by Inflite Engineering Ltd. at London Stansted Airport. The RJ100 joined two RJ85s already in service with the BDF. The Dubai Air Wing accepted its first RJ85 in the summer after it was converted to executive configuration by Avmax in Calgary, Canada. Avmax is currently converting a second RJ85 to a VVIP layout for the Dubai Air Wing. It is due for delivery before the end of the year.
The third government to have chosen the ABJ is Abu Dhabi, whose Amiri Flight has one VIP-configured RJ70 and one RJ85 fitted for the executive charter role. The latter is operated under the management of Royal Jet. First Kuwait Trading and Construction operates a BAe 146-200 as a corporate aircraft, but has retained the airline interior.
According to Whelan, a combination of factors are attracting buyers to the ABJ, with performance, price and cabin size being key. He said, “The aircraft can be acquired for regional airliner prices, which represents exceptional value for money.” He also cited the aircraft’s independence from ground support equipment and its “outstanding airfield performance, which allows the ABJ to get in and out of difficult airports denied to other jets.” One ABJ has recently been flying in and out of dirt and grass fields in Africa, with elevations of 6,000 feet and runway lengths of 3,000 feet.
BAE Systems has around 25 ABJs in service or under conversion.