10
$\begingroup$

In many discussion(1)(2) it is stated that the BAe 146 has higher maintenance cost and higher cost of operations in compare to other jets due to its complexity.

Quoting IslandHopperCO (Reply 21): The PSA (then USAir) BAe-146s were parked in the desert in 1991 due to high maintenance costs according to USAir. More likely was that USAir couldn't turn a profit on the western routes that PSA used to make money on, because those routes were dropped when the plane were parked.

No that is pretty much correct...PSA also had major problems with reliability. In fact BAE provided them with a spare because they broke down so much. Who knows if they would have gotten rid of them because of that. They were kinda ugly but in a cute way....that smile really did it!

  • Why are the maintenance and operating cost higher?
  • Why is it more complex than other jets?
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The biggest contributing factor is probably having twice the number of engines as other regional jet aircraft. $\endgroup$ – casey Aug 1 '15 at 3:10
10
$\begingroup$

higher maintenance cost and higher cost of operations in compare to other jets due to its complexity.

That seems ironic considering what Wikipedia says

According to the BAe 146's chief designer, Bob Grigg, from the very start of the design process, making the aircraft as easy to maintain as possible and keeping operator's running costs as low as possible were considerably high priorities.

Velupillai 1981, pp. 1245-1246, 1253.


Why is it more complex than other jets?

Because it has four engines? I believe short-haul airliners of similar capacity mostly have only two.

Why are the maintenance and operating cost higher?

Wikipedia says of the original Lycoming engines used:

The ALF 502 has experienced multiple issues. Its internal electronics could overheat, triggering an automatic shutdown of an engine with no option of in-flight restart, and certain rare atmospheric conditions could cause a loss of engine thrust due to internal icing.[29] Additionally, the BAe 146 experienced aerotoxic syndrome due to leakage of tricresyl phosphate (TCP) into its bleed air; this has been blamed on problems with leaking engine seals. Exposure to these toxic fumes is a dangerous health risk


Note: the above is speculation, you'd have to ask an airline maintenance manager.

There are interesting maintenance anecdotes / whinges at pprune

  • High price of spare parts.
  • Accessibility of some components.
  • N1 harness that goes through engine fan strut.
  • Quick release fastners needed on engine core covers.
  • FADEC harness (RJ) can't be changed without dropping the donk.
  • Lower engine power cables that freeze full of moisture.
  • Corrosion issuse with the gear bay longeron strut.
  • The nose landing gear steering lube leaks out and the internals corrode
  • Air con pacs are unreliable.
  • Honeywell apu's are unreliable, Garrets better.
  • Fuel tanks need proper draining off every day to get rid of moisture.
  • Tri-wing fasteners often fail on removal.
$\endgroup$
9
$\begingroup$

The reason is really the number of engines. Engine maintenance is the biggest part of aircraft maintenance, and designers put as few on an airplane as they can get away with. Two is the minimum for redundancy, and any more means more hours have to be spent in the shop. This explains the 777 - it's the biggest thing Boeing could build once the GE-90 was announced.

Why the 146 has four engines is explained in the comment of @fsintegral below, but at least it helped to sell it in some cases. Crossair used them because the owner, Felix Suter, wanted to have his own four-engine transport. The nickname for the 146 at Crossair was Jumbolino.

BAe sold the 146 for very low prices, so the saved money could cover the more expensive maintenance for some years.

$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I presume the choice of four relatively small engines was down to the design goal of minimising noise while having good STOL performance. $\endgroup$ – gsnedders Nov 18 '14 at 12:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I thought the GE90 was developed specifically in response to the call for engines for the 777 program? In fact, the P&W engine options were the first ones used on 777s. The GE90 wasn't available until a couple of years after the initial launch of the 777. Having said that, the GE90 really is in a class of its own. Nothing else even comes close to the GE90-115b. $\endgroup$ – reirab Nov 18 '14 at 14:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @reirab: The first GE-90 777 was delivered in November 1995, half a year after the first 777 was delivered. Engine design takes longer than airplane design, and Boeing needed to be sure that it would have possibilities for stretched versions. The first 777 had an MTOW of below 250 t, the newer versions weigh more than 350 t. Only when engines like the GE-90 were on the horizon, the risk of developing the 777 was manageable - and Boeing wanted to be there first. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Nov 18 '14 at 15:31
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @gsnedders: I heard the rumor that the 146 was influenced by the British Air Force who wanted to have a modern close-support transporter. Then four engines would make sense. But in the end the RAF declined the offered militarized version. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Nov 18 '14 at 15:36
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The BAe 146 was designed to meet the following requirements : Being able to operate on short fields. Quieter than any other model at the time, to be able to operate on city center airports like London City even late in the night. Larger capacity on smaller airfields. Larger models with more payload while still quiet enough (cargo/combi versions already envisionned) => 4 engines was the only option. - At that time, laws on noise abattement wasn't like today and fuel costs wasn't that problematic. Note : The BAe146 is NOT an Avro RJ. The two has different engines, avionics, etc. $\endgroup$ – Karl Stephen Nov 19 '14 at 11:06
1
$\begingroup$

BAE according to the accounts of a local Aircraft Engineer stood for "Bring Another Engine".

Engine reliability is was really was the death of this aircraft. At least in my friends experience. Their local examples were constantly having to be taken off line due to hangar time.

$\endgroup$
-1
$\begingroup$

Because it was a pain in the a*** to work on. The only benefit the aircraft had was it's ability to operate in noise curfew limited airports (yes, it had an attribute, it was very quiet). Maintenance manhours were very high compared to other aircraft. Engine changes, too many, compared to other aircraft, engine issues, too many, cockpit design, antiquated, spar issues, the list goes on.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome! Unfortunately, this answer is rather vague and doesn't seem to add much to the other answers. It seems almost a given that maintenance costs were higher because maintenance man-hours were higher so the question is essentially why that was true. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jan 31 '16 at 5:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.