When Hawker Siddeley, later to become British Aerospace, announced their 146 airliner in 1973 it heralded a fresh new challenge from the British aircraft manufacturing industry to the dominance of those in America and the Netherlands.
Set to attract the airlines operating regional routes, and into smaller airports, the 146 offered the comfort and space of a larger airliner like the Boeing 737, but the smaller size and economics of a turboprop.
What’s more, it offered jet speed, but with quieter engines.
It entered service in 1983.
Later, a modified version of the aircraft was introduced in the form of the Avro RJ (or Regional Jet), which improved the avionics, engines and performance of the aircraft.
146 and RJ Variants
The BAe 146 came in three variants – the 146-100, -200 and -300. Each offered a different number of seats, and other variations in range.
The Avro RJ offered similar versions which corresponded to the 146. It came in the RJ70, RJ85 and RJ100 versions. Some 170 examples were built.
In an attempt to give the airliner another new lease of life, British Aerospace proposed the RJX variant which would come in two sizes and further improve its economics in the face of stiff competition from other manufacturers.
It was not, however, a commercial success with few early orders. At the time British Aerospace was shifting focus, and ultimately the project was abandoned with only three test aircraft completed.
One is on display at the Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport.
The 146 Today
Today, some 40 years on since the 146 entered service, it is naturally a rarer beast.
The days of its operation with the world’s major airlines is long over, and many of the 221 examples built have now been retired and scrapped.
Some examples still fly with smaller airlines in developing countries in Africa, South America and Asia, including:
- Aerovias DAP, Chile (146-100 and -200)
- Air Libya (146-200)
- Armenia Airways (146-300)
- Aviastar, Indonesia (146-200)
- National Jet Express, Australia (146-200 and -300)
- Fly Lankan Asia, Sri Lanka (146-300)
- Mahan Air, Iran (146-300)
- Pionair Australia (146-200)
- SkyJet, Philippines (146-100 and -200)
The Avro RJ Today
Even the more modern Avro RJ is a rarer aircraft to see and fly on today, but there are more active examples than the 146.
Airlines still flying the Avro RJ are:
- Aerovias DAP, Chile (RJ85 and RJ100)
- Air Libya (RJ100)
- Bulgaria Air (RJ70)
- Ecojet, Bolivia (RJ85)
- Mahan Air, Iran (RJ85 and RJ100)
- National Jet Express, Australia (RJ100)
- North Cariboo Air, Canada (RJ100)
- Qeshm Air, Iran (RJ85 and RJ100)
- Summit Air, Canada (RJ85 and RJ100)
- Taban Air, Iran (RJ85)
- TezJet, Kyrgyzstan (RJ85)
How to Fly Rare Airliners
The BAe 146 and Avro RJ are just two of the aircraft types covered in our guide, Last Chance to Fly.
This unique book lists the rarer and historic airliners which still offer opportunities to be flown commercially or by heritage operators.
Available exclusively to our Premium Members (sign up here), the guide is updated regularly and includes everything from early Airbus A300s to classic British and Soviet types.
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