Cobham Aviation Services Australia has leased two Avro RJ100s from BAE Systems Regional Aircraft, and signed a long-term extension for a BAe 146-300 it already operates.

The deal coincides with Cobham's signing of an A$170 million ($153 million) contract with Chevron Australia to provide a regular shuttle between Perth and Barrow Island, says BAE Systems.

Located off northwest Australia, Barrow Island is situated in Chevron's offshore Gorgon natural gas project, which is due to begin production in 2015. Cobham will be responsible for flying exploration workers to the massive project.

The first of the two RJ100s will be delivered in early 2010, and the second in 2011. Eventually Cobham will dedicate two RJ100s and three BAe 146s to the project, says BAE systems.

"Since our first aircraft deal with Cobham in the early 1990s, we have over the years enjoyed a strong business relationship and have secured scores of leases, lease extensions, and aircraft sales," says Steward Cordner, vice president of BAe Systems Asset Management. "In the process Cobham bas grown to become one of the most experienced BAe 146 operators in the world."

Cobham operates over 7,500 flights annually in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Its clients include major resources players such as Rio Tinto, Leighton Holdings, and Australian petroleum group Santos.

Cobham operates 20 aircraft, according to Flightglobal's ACAS database. Key types include BAe 146s and Boeing 717-200s. It also operates one Bombardier Q100, one Q300, and an Avro RJ-70ER.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news