BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has today been awarded one of the highest accolades from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for its part in the conversion of two BAe 146-200QC (Quick Change) aircraft that were converted from commercial to military aircraft configuration for use by the Royal Air Force.
Known as the Minister (DEST) Acquisition Award 2013, it is the highest accolade within the MoD that an individual or team can receive for acquisition excellence. This award was given to both the industrial team, led by BAE Systems Regional Aircraft, and its principal sub- contractor Marshall Aviation Services, and the teams within the MoD that masterminded the procurement, military certification, operational aspects and entry into service of the aircraft.
Mark Taylor, Business Director Engineering of BAE Systems Regional Aircraft at Prestwick, and Jason Davies, General Manager of Marshall Aviation Services received their awards from Philip Dunne MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology (Min DEST) at a ceremony in the MoD Main Building Memorial Courtyard.
Mark Taylor said:” The success of this extensive conversion programme, which was carried out on time and on budget, is due to the excellent teamwork from all parties which meant the aircraft entered service on the due date. It is now on active duty in Afghanistan and is proving to be reliable, efficient, flexible and popular.”
Known in RAF service as the BAe 146 C Mk.3, the two aircraft were converted under an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) contract awarded to BAE Systems Regional Aircraft for use in the extraction phase of the current Afghanistan campaign – Operation Herrick.
BAE Systems was responsible for the design and integration of the equipment to be fitted to the aircraft, the sourcing of the equipment and management of the supply chain and overall management of the conversion programme. The actual conversion was carried out at the Marshall Aviation Services (formerly Hawker Beechcraft Ltd) facility at Broughton in North Wales under sub-contract to BAE Systems.
Among the military equipment fitted was a Defensive Aids System to enable these UOR aircraft to be protected to appropriate levels for aircraft in theatre in Afghanistan. Also installed was a Successor Identification Friend or Foe (SIFF) system.
A number of other upgrades were also installed including HF and UHF radio communications systems and a satellite communications system. An armoured flight deck was incorporated along with fuel tank inertion, air conditioning upgrades and a fire protection system in the baggage bay.
The BAe 146 C Mk.3 is equipped with a large 131 inch wide and 76 inch high (3.33m x1.93m) rear upward-opening freight door giving a large aperture for the easy loading of pallets, containers and awkwardly-shaped cargo. The large cabin volume of the aircraft will allow up to 23,500 lbs (10.6 tonnes) of freight to be carried.
The cabin floor of the aircraft has a freight loading system which allows either palletised freight or passenger seating fixed to pallets to be rapidly installed. The passenger layout of 94 seats is to full commercial aircraft standards with interior trim, carpeting, toilet and galleys available front and rear and overhead passenger service units for each seat row and overhead luggage bins. There are also two large underfloor baggage holds.
In order to further broaden the versatility of this aircraft BAE Systems engineered two further interior options for the RAF. It sourced and received Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval for new cabin baggage platforms and containers and cargo pallets.
When installed on the aircraft this gives an alternative layout of 54 seats and a significant amount of carry-on baggage allowance in storage containers that can carry personal equipment and other bags. The containers and their associated pallet are fork-liftable, even when loaded to their maximum weight, so aiding rapid turnaround.
BAE Systems also cleared a palletised freight layout for use on these aircraft, rather than the usual BAe 146QC freight igloos, to allow easier transhipment of loads between differing aircraft types in the RAF transport fleet.
Both aircraft are assigned to the RAF’s 32 (The Royal) Squadron which already operates two BAe 146 CC Mk 2 aircraft, primarily in the VIP transport role from RAF Northolt in north-west London.