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BAE / AVRO 146

Old 2nd Dec 2019, 22:32
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BAE / AVRO 146

I was walking around a static BAE-146 this morning and reminiscing about the passenger jet, I presume it was the last produced British passenger jet? Just wondered if anyone had any memories which they wish to share about this aircraft type? From the flight deck was it a good aircraft to fly? From an operational point of view was it a reliable and liked aircraft? I apologise for using a ‘past tense’ for this aircraft and appreciate that it still flies, I gues it must be in its twilight years now?
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Old 2nd Dec 2019, 22:36
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I remember the weird noise when the flaps went down, both when on the ground and in the cabin. When traveling on Air BC (now Jazz) 146s, the cabin crew would make an announcement about the flap noise, just so it didn't scare the passengers!


Explanation here: Bae 146 / Avro RJ banshee flap extension noise

Last edited by India Four Two; 2nd Dec 2019 at 22:46.
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Old 2nd Dec 2019, 23:35
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It was a great aircraft to fly, responsive, with pleasantly light progressive controls; generally viewed as a 'pilot's aeroplane'. It was fairly unreliable, always some fault or other, though this was seldom a problem due to the backups and redundancies in almost all the systems. This, combined with poor fuel economy, made it quite an expensive aircraft to operate. It had a very strong and forgiving undercarriage, so most landings were classed as 'good' by the passengers, even if it was rather plonked on.

It was a busy flightdeck, with plenty of quirks and traps for the unwary. Particularly, the 146 didn't have autothrottle, just a throttle trimming system called TMS, meaning only one vertical mode could be set in the autopilot. The gotcha would be after levelling off at cleared altitude, and being given a speed, to set IAS to hold that speed, which then released the Alt Hold, and an altitude bust was very likely as only the power setting controlled altitude from that point on. You very quickly remembered not to make that mistake again! The RJ had autothrottle which made it simpler. Often the yaw damper was not working as it should, and cabin crew, especially at the back complained of a continual yawing / rolling sensation which could make them feel nauseous.

Flaps, as stated above, were dramatic. The step from between 0 and 18 degrees, causing both a dramatic pitch on their extension and retraction, and the loud noise they made travelling between these 2 stages. But you soon got used to that, making it a non event for the flight and cabin crew alike. With full (33 degree I recall) flap and the speed brake out for landing, it was very draggy, and could be landed in a short space.

It was very under powered - fine on T/O and initial climb, but regularly running out of puff above 20,000', especially in warmer climates. The 146 wasn't RVSM, but that wasn't a significant limitation because they seemed like they anything left when they finally struggled up to 28,000'. The joke was, why did it have 4 engines? Because there wasn't room to fit 6. Some said it just had 5 APUs. But it was flyable on 3 engines - I did a 3 engine ferry (remember the unreliability?), and it was a regular into London City Airport, which was always fun and always interesting - great views of London at close range.

It was of course the most infamous toxic-air culprit, with regular wet sock smells on first using bleed air, especially from the APU.

Hope this helps with your question.
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Old 2nd Dec 2019, 23:59
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Very interesting and enjoyable read, pilotmike.. thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 03:49
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I liked the rocker switches in the cockpit.. much cleaner than toggle switches.

Were they used on any other aircraft types?

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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 06:45
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Originally Posted by Fly.Buy View Post
I was walking around a static BAE-146 this morning and reminiscing about the passenger jet, I presume it was the last produced British passenger jet? Just wondered if anyone had any memories which they wish to share about this aircraft type? From the flight deck was it a good aircraft to fly? From an operational point of view was it a reliable and liked aircraft? I apologise for using a ‘past tense’ for this aircraft and appreciate that it still flies, I gues it must be in its twilight years now?


It was originally designed by the De Havilland part of Hawker Siddely ie nothing to do with BAE originally.
I recall that there wan't enough interest in it when first proposed in the '60s so it was put on the back burner until Wedgie Benn (the bloke who gave government money to build the DeLorean car in Northern Ireland) 'discovered' it and pushed for its development.
I found it quite pleasant to fly in; I did 3 fam flights (flight deck rides for Air Traffic Controllers) these being Heathrow - Jersey, Gatwick - Berne and Gatwick - Bergen via Newcasrle and always marvelled at the smooth touchdowns. On departure from Bergen, there was a Hatfield based test pilot in the left hand seat and he demonstrated for me what it could do if allowed; with a full load of pax we were passing 2,000ft before the end of the runway.
I also visited the production line at Hatfield in I think 1985; those 'De Havilland' workers were incredibly proud of the aircraft they were building and took great pride in their product.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 07:11
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I recall at LHR when I was with BMA (around 1981?) that the BAF painted demo 146 G-OBAF came in and was iirc being shown off to Brymon whom we handled there for the NQY and PLH flghts (who then ordered Dash 7's)

Then at LGW we often saw Dan Air 146's go off on quite long IT charter flights CFU AGP and FAO (but I think a tech stop was needed)
Manx used their -100 on weekend ski flights but you could not get all the pax's ski's and boots in the holds and we had to lave some behind and put them on the 757 lol
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 07:52
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We had a couple as company coms aircraft, and they were great. I guess I must have had over a hundred flights as a passenger, and they rarely went tech in my experience (certainly far less so than the ATP which preceded them and the Emb145s that succeeded them). As a passenger the 146s were always quiet and comfortable, even in the cheap seats, and didn't suffer the baggage limits of the ATP and 145. That lovely long-stroke trailing link undercarriage flattered even the roughest landings, where the 145 seems to have granite-filled oleos that shatter the spines of any unwary passengers who fail to sit straight and braced for impact...

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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 08:09
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...and 250kts, clean, to 4 miles down an ILS was easy.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 08:48
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
It was originally designed by the De Havilland part of Hawker Siddeley ie nothing to do with BAE originally.
I recall that there wan't enough interest in it when first proposed in the '60s so it was put on the back burner until Wedgie Benn (the bloke who gave government money to build the DeLorean car in Northern Ireland) 'discovered' it and pushed for its development.

I also visited the production line at Hatfield in I think 1985; those 'De Havilland' workers were incredibly proud of the aircraft they were building and took great pride in their product.
We had quite a bit of interest in it in 1972/3, but that was a period of high inflation. Our potential customers wanted a fixed-forward price to remove the uncertainty but we were unable to offer such a price as too much was unknown.
We re-launched at about the time that the industry was nationalised to become BAe (1976) and it still carried its de Havilland type number . . .

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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 08:53
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Nice aircraft to fly in as a passenger - comfortable and smooth flight.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 09:00
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Must say, I liked flying it. I'd forgotten about that howl when the flaps were starting to extend or finishing their retraction. It had an official name. "Flap hoot".
The flaps were so powerful that there was an auto trim system called FTC to keep the thing in trim. Flap trim compensation.
Other funnies included full flap take offs and I even got to try the pitch oscillation that it could get itself into, but only with the autopilot on.
Systems on it were quite complex and the failure modes never went as advertised. Losing a Genny for example, could lead to many unforecast failures. The QRH was of little help, you had to figure it out for yourself. I once had a TRU fail which left the a/c invisible to radar...
I was also lucky enough to get the frozen elevator syndrome, caused by refreezing of device residues. Luckily it flew nicely on the trimmer. No point telling the pax or ATC. They couldn't help us! It felt like the stick was set in concrete.
As another guy posted, it was woefully short of power, but boy, could it descend!
I remember one flight where our rate of climb became zero, much to the concern of ATC, but it just had no puff left. We smashed along at full power until it got lighter, which didn't take long on the RJ100.
The airframe was class, and you knew it was unbreakable, as the Swiss have gone on to prove..
Well, almost unbreakable.
Modern systems would have transformed it, but the RJ-X was killed off post 911.
Mainly good memories of the thing on my part.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 13:48
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Nearly 4 years flying them in Australia (300 series), comfortable flight deck with good lighting, abysmal performance in ISA+15-20, max altitude about FL230 Cairns-Brisbane, very forgiving undercarriage made every landing a greaser, workload increased by the requirement to take off with APU running to supply bleed air for AIRCON/PRESS then switching on engine bleeds when climb thrust established and a reverse procedure on approach, start APU then engine bleeds off on final above 1,500', airbrake not as effective as the F28, brake temperatures could be a problem with noisy fans used on the ground to reduce cooling time........the ice detector on the left forward fuselage was a real "Heath Robinson" apparatus, rotating serated spool which when iced up would contact a static vane and the increased resistance would trigger the ICE DETECTED message in the cockpit, I recall the rudder limiter was actioned by the "Fir Tree" fitting, employing if I recall a rod shaped like a fir tree profile which engaged via an air driven bellows arrangement into an actuating cam on the rudder pedal linkage, the faster you went the more the rod protruded into cam and thus limited rudder movement.....the outstanding memory is that of the smell problem with MOBIL JET2 ingested by both the engines and the Garret 150M APU being fed into the AIRCON system, I know of 3 crew members who suffered from fume inhalation and were forced to stop flying.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 14:07
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I enjoyed flying the 146. It was designed for short haul and at that it was good (up, cuppa tea, down). The criticisms that it was restricted to M.72 and FL310 (later models) are made by folks who were trying to do other things with it. It was just a big turboprop.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 14:16
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Look at the 146/RJ for what it was and not a comparison with modern times; the 146 created many of today’s opportunities.
Post war the 146 concept started as a DC 3 replacement - as did many other aircraft. That changed with foresight, emerging markets, intercity, noise sensitivity, advantages of jet speed / range from difficult airports.

Conventionally the 146 could match short-hall aircraft such as the 1-11, but with added bonus of field performance and some economics.
Performance, short runways, steep approach, opened many new markets. The 146 made LCY what it is today; Lugano, Florence, Aspen, Orange County, were similar firsts.
Air Wisconsin, hub and spoke, ran a bus stop operation - walk on at the front, off at the back; a flexible aircraft. Combi, freighter, VIP, military. Different fuselage lengths considered from the outset. Rough strip, gravel, (grass?) with low pressure tyres.

Flap noise - listen to the lift; the highest CL max of any civil aircraft, still is? Modification reduced the effect, but a full cure would cost the weight of two seats.
Rocker switches also used in the 125; many advantages, a few pitfalls.

The RJ was a digital aircraft, EFIS (some 146), auto throttle, autoland; Cat 3 approval pioneered a new super fail passive category, 150m RVR.
A HUD was evaluated - customer request, but it was no better than the autos and very expensive.

It’s flying characteristics (soft landings spoilt new pilots) added safety with few risks for new world-wide operators or those transitioning from turboprops.
In the landing configuration it went where you pointed it, -3 deg attitude = 3 deg GS. Good view from the flight deck.
Air brakes and independent ground lift dump. Big wheel brakes - reverse not required.

Ahh, places it took me, and some I wish that it had not.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 15:02
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As a passenger I had the pleasure of flying in a number of BAE146’s, About a decade ago, I remember walking along the ramp of LCY (London City) to see a line up of 146’s all with the lettering of ‘AVRO’ inscribed along the fuselage followed by ‘146’. The fact that the wording of ‘AVRO’ can still be found on aircraft is very nostalgic in today’s modern aviation.
On a separate note I also flew on Turkish Airlines 146’s, but I believe their experiences of the aircraft were very different. They had 1 hull loss. In addition the airline had to suspend operations due to a concern over corrosion but I don’t think it was connected to the hull loses. I believe they gave the 146’s a nickname of ‘Bring another Engine’ an acronym for ‘BAE’. When they finally gave up their fleet of 146’s their engineers were so elated that they slaughtered a camel on the apron of Istanbul Ataturk airport to celebrate, unfortunately they did this in front of parked aircraft full of passengers which caused a few complaints! (Unfortunate for the camel as well!)




Last edited by Fly.Buy; 3rd Dec 2019 at 15:31.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 15:37
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Bounced it

Comments re the trailing link gear spot on. Made every landing a "greaser"! Except I threw it on the ground one day so hard we bounced! I loved flying it but the engines and bleed air made it a bit of a dog. The ex-Boeing and Douglas Captains I flew with hated it's lack of performance! But 25K up and down the West Coast made for great sight seeing!
Captain to me. " So you're a Brit? Did you know BAe stands for " Bring another engine?" I pointed out that it was actually "Bring another American engine"! The ALF-502 engine had a sun -and -planet gear box. The tolerances on this were poor and it "made metal". I think we were taking the engines off and rebuilding them at less than 1000 hours. One flight attendant was leaning over to pass a drink to a passenger when an engine let go. Lucky her! Shrapnel came through the fuselage and was found in the overhead bin door. Would have taken her head off!
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 16:06
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I've got about 2,000 hours on the 146, in the early nineties. Nice machine, very pleasant to fly. As mcdhu says, it was basically a fast turboprop. In fact, I believe some operators wouldn't count it as jet time on job applications. Easy to land, exactly where you wanted it. I remember one F.O. commenting "You mean you're spot-landing a four-jet?" Yep.

One problem I encountered more than once was that water could get into the engine pylons and freeze the throttle controls. That meant that during descent/approach, one engine would remain at cruise power. When the amount of rudder trim became ridiculous, shut it down: there were three others.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 16:09
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I used to fly as SLF between Stansted and Frankfurt on Air UK 146s and they always seemed to be on time.even in some pretty cruddy Central European winter weather.The later 300 series seemed to have a smoother ride but that is purely subjective. Whatever, they were much more comfortable than some of the Air UK "jungle repo" F-27s that were on the run before them.
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Old 3rd Dec 2019, 16:41
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Red face 146 lot of flights with Air UK

Passing Norwich Airport yesterday, at least one 146 parked with
large holes where the engines used to be. John

Last edited by esa-aardvark; 3rd Dec 2019 at 16:42. Reason: spelling !
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