BAE 146 Airliners To Meet Airlift Shortfall, Budget Crunch?

 - September 14, 2009, 12:13 PM

With the delay to the A400M in mind, as well as tight defense budgets, BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is marketing surplus BAe 146 airliners to military customers as low-cost tactical transports. BAE owns 47 of the four-engine, high-wing jets, many of which are now coming off lease as carriers replace them with new regional airliners. Although the 146 does not have a rear-loading ramp, “it could be a complementary utility aircraft to hard-pressed tactical airlift assets,” according to Andy Wheelon, BAE sales director. BAE will soon have two 146s available with side cargo doors, which the company converted speculatively but failed to find takers in the airfreight or express business. They can carry 22,050 to 26,460 pounds of payload. The 146 is already certified for steep (meaning tactical) approaches into small airfields and can operate from unpaved runways with minimal modifications. Other mods could include additional fuel tanks, and quick-change or combi configurations. Five air forces already operate 146s or the newer RJ version as VIP or staff transports. Another 25 are in service as business jets. BAE gives an “indicative” price of $2.5 million for a passenger 146 and $5 million for a freighter, and says that “innovative commercial terms” are available to governments and Ministries of Defence.