BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has delivered the final Avro RJ to Finnish carrier Blue 1, bringing to an end 22 years of BAe 146/Avro RJ production. An Avro RJ85 that arrived in Helsinki on November 26 was the last of four aircraft ordered by Blue 1. In total, BAE has delivered 390 of the quad-jets. The UK manufacturer will continue to handle customer and product support directly.
BAE Systems today issued an upbeat description of progress with the previously troubled upgrade of the Nimrod MRA.4 maritime patrol plane for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Two development aircraft have now logged 70 hours on 30 test flights, and RAF aircrew have flown in every position onboard.
Aviation and the environment often appear to be in conflict, sometimes in unpredictable ways. One such has led BAE Systems into a collaboration with the UK government and the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) on a research project that aims to eliminate the interference that the rotating blades on wind turbine installations can cause to air traffic control radars.
In the aerospace world, the West is definitely looking east these days. Western manufacturers see Asia and eastern Europe as important emerging markets and as sources of low-cost production capacity. But some parts of the West are trying to persuade other Westerners that they don’t have to look quite so far east for the value and opportunity they crave.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is about to oversee tests of antimissile airliner protection equipment on board an American Airlines Boeing 767. By year-end, three aircraft are to be used for testing prototype equipment under development by Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems as officials seek to resolve whether the systems can be sufficiently effective and affordable for mass deployment on civil airliners.
BAE already derives 34 percent of its revenues from North America, where 27,000 employees produce an annual turnover of $5.6 billion. Of equal significance, the return on sales is 8.4 percent–the highest figure in all of BAE. The group’s CEO, Mike Turner, is fond of reminding UK and European government officials that the conditions for technology investment are so much more favorable to BAE on the other side of the Atlantic.
The Rochester, UK facility of BAE Systems has developed the world’s first control stick that tells a pilot, through feel, that the airplane is exceeding the design envelope. The stick provides discernably greater resistance when the pilot moves it beyond the limits by the aircraft’s flight control software.
BAE Systems has all but abandoned Europe. The British defense conglomerate is putting its money into North America, where the budgets are large and the risks are low. But the U.S. government has imposed major bureaucratic controls on all foreign entities that seek to share defense technology. So can BAE ever become a truly integrated transatlantic company?
A recent slew of new announcements from BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has reminded the industry that the BAE146/ Avro RJ jetliner family has not gone away. New lease packages to regional airlines, the possibility of a new production line and some innovative conversion packages all suggest that the four-engine jets still have some life left in them.
Deliveries of six Hawk Mk 129s to the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) by BAE Systems beginning in the middle of next year will highlight the company’s continuing efforts to promote its advanced jet trainer in the highly competitive Middle East market. On August 26, the first of six aircraft destined for Bahrain made its first flight at BAE’s Warton facility in the UK.