BAE Systems Regional Aircraft plans to expand its customer support business to incorporate non-BAE Systems legacy aircraft types. As part of the process the company has gained a supplemental type certificate (STC) to design a modification to fit quick-access recorders on Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprops for UK-based airline FlyBe.

Regional Aircraft says the airline wanted a solution that could be applied across its fleet of BAe 146s and Dash 8s. The modification is now available to all Bombardier aircraft operators. "We see this as a growing business for us," it says.

The company is now considering extending "spare parts by the hour" support programmes to cover other aircraft types operated by its customers.

Regional Aircraft is also looking into two conversion programmes for its aircraft. The company is studying the possibility of relaunching the BAe 146QT passenger to freighter conversion programme, initially involving 10 aircraft.

The company has asked eight engineering centres to submit price estimates for the conversion. Subject to further discussions, it expects to make its selection and award a contract by the end of the year, with the first aircraft entering the programme early next year.

Meanwhile Regional Aircraft's BAe146 air tanker conversion programme has got under way, with the identification of the first aircraft to be converted – a BAe 146-200. Flight trials demonstrating the aircraft's firefighting capability took place in September 2004 and work began in January.

Regional Aircraft has also announced a life-extension programme for the BAe 146, which it says will allow the aircraft to remain in service for at least another 20 years.

Source: Flight International