The BAe 146/ Avro RJ regional airliner is given a new lease of life as a converted waterbomber.
The short-haul, regional airliner was created by BAE Systems Regional Aircraft and originally served as passenger or freighter aircraft. The BAe 146/ Avro RJ was in production from 1983 until 2002 and while 220 are still currently in service, around 50 are in long-term storage. BAE Systems is responsible for the ongoing engineering and support for 500 British Aerospace-built aircraft and serve with 170 customers across the globe.
Many of the aircraft have been adapted for a new role and given a second life operating as aerial waterbombers and airtankers. The first flight trials for the converted BAe 146 / Avro RJ were conducted in 2004 and revealed the aircraft was responsive, easy to fly, had low-speed handling and a better angle of attack flying drop-type maneuvers.
Currently around 18 aircraft have been reformed for the role, and take on the wildfires that break out across the US and Canada, Australia and the Mediterranean.
The damage to property, environment and lives caused by wildfires is enormous. An average of 1.2 million acres of US woodland burn every year and in 2012, there were 67,774 wildfires across the US alone. In Canada there are over 10,000 forest fires every year.
Canada’s largest airtankers operator and converter, Conair, has a fleet of over 60 fixed-wing aircraft of various sizes and expect the aircraft to remain in service for the next 20-25 years. Conair is Canada’s most experienced specialty aircraft operations provider, delivering a comprehensive range of aerial fire control products and services to a variety of national and international customers and partners.