German Aircraft remarketing and conversions specialist Cordner Aviation Group has unveiled a new variant of the BAe 146/Avro RJ aimed at the mining and energy sector.
Dubbed the "Surveyor", company president Stewart Cordner envisages a market for five to six aircraft per year,
Cordner, formerly in charge of the Avro RJ business jet programme at BAE Systems, said that with the purchase price of the types decreasing, Cordner can offer an on-ramp price for the Surveyor of under $5 million.
He said: "The aircraft has all-around excellent hot and high performance, as well as outstanding short field capability.
© Cordner Aviation
"That can be nothing more than a gravel or dirt airstrip, located potentially right where the mine is."
The conversion, which includes a gravel kit for unpaved landing strips, will take a total of five months, he said.
In addition, around 700kg (1,541lb) of weight is stripped from the basic passenger aircraft with the replacement of old seats using lighter models from Pitch Aircraft Seating Systems of the UK. Standard overhead lighting is replaced by new LED units.
The Surveyor is also easily converted, said Cordner, allowing a rapid change to a VIP configuration or optional medevac using equipment from US-based Sikorsky Aircraft's LifePort division.
Cordner has 16 BAe 146s or Avro RJs on its books, with a number made available from airlines in the Balkan Aviation Group and more from an unnamed European airline.
He sees increasing availability of both types as airlines defleet them in favour of newer aircraft. Falko, the former BAE Systems Asset Management business, also has a "significant number" available, said Cordner.
"It's very much a sales market on the 146, it's not worth the risk of leasing them."
Cordner is looking to launch a VIP version of the Avro RJ later this year. Design of the interior will be carried out by UK firm Design Q, which has previously worked on the type for BAE Systems. Conversions will be undertaken by Inflite Engineering, based at Stansted airport, in the UK.