BAe 146 / AVRO RJ85 Liaison Engineer

AVRO 146 / RJ85
BAe 146/Avro RJ Airtanker

Another nearly obsolete aircraft I’ve worked on is the BAe 146 designed and manufactured by British Aerospace. In the early 90s, I visited the Air Wisconsin facility in Appleton on my first visit to the state, a place I scarcely expected to return to. While there, I surveyed Satcom/ADF antenna locations for SelCal installation on an Italian BAe 146 charter airliner (Meridiana* if memory serves me) as a liaison engineer for Avionics Engineering Services, Schwartz Engineering Company and Airworks.

The BAe 146 made its first flight in 1981, and is renown as the most successful British civil jet airliner program. In the U.S., a 70-seat version was operated as United Express, a.k.a. regional airliner Air Wisconsin, and hence the maintenance ops base. Production of an improved version began in the U.K. in 1992 under the Avro RJ moniker. All BAe 146 / Avro RJ production halted in 2002 after approximately 387 (394) aircraft had been produced. A conversion, popularized by the U.S. Forest Service and Canadian firefighters, sees Avro RJ and BAe 146 presently being used as airtankers.

AVRO 146 / RJ85
BAe 146/Avro RJ Airtanker

I would return to Appleton many times over the next two decades participating activities at EAA AirVenture in nearby Oshkosh. I would also visit the BAe 146 fuselage production site in Filton, UK, although for work on Airbus A300 modifications. The BAe 146 was produced as a “feederliner” designed and built to be “as simple as possible.” Oddly the area where antennas were to be added was a labyrinth of structure. The quadjet was a candidate for numerous engine, fuselage and operational modifications which is common among proven airframes when their worth outlasts their equipment.

Meridiana BAe 146
Meridiana BAe146-200QC, passenger/cargo quick conversion.

*Meridiana was established under the name Alisarda in 1963, by Aga Khan Prince Karim Al Hussaini with the aim of promoting tourism in Sardinia. The name was changed to Meridiana in 1991, the same year the company began its BAe146 operations. The airline operate as Air Italy until 2020.