Friday, July 20, 2012

BAe146 Aircraft With Gravel Kits

Cobham Aviation Services has modified two BAe 146 jet aircraft to operate from unsealed airstrips used by mining companies. Surplus BAe 146 aircraft are now being used by the UK military for transport of supplies and troops. The "Gravel Kit" has rubber paint to
protect the fuselage, nose wheel stone deflector and Kevlar undercarriage shields for the main landing gear.

I suggest, if commercially successful, Cobham's aircraft could also be used to transport personnel and equipment for the Australian military. This would free up military transport aircraft for tactical use. Cobham already supply services to Australian and other military organizations.
News Release
10 July 2012
Cobham Offers Australia’s First Commercial Jetly In Fly Out Services to Unsealed Airstrips

PERTH, Australia – Cobham has opened-up hundreds of gravel air strips around Australia to commercial passenger jet aircraft for the first time, unlocking huge benefits to mining and energy companies’ Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) operations.

In an Australian-first, Cobham has commenced jet FIFO services to unsealed airstrips following modification of several BAe 146 jets with “gravel kits” that protect the undercarriage and airframe during take-off and landing.

Cobham’s first jet FIFO services are being provided to a mining consortium in Kambalda, 500km east of Perth. Cobham is also in active talks with other mining companies to expand the services.

“Until now, companies operating out of gravel airstrips were forced to use turboprop aircraft, with a limit of 50 passengers,” said Peter Nottage, vice president of Cobham Aviation Services.

“The gravel kit modification means faster flights in safe, quiet jets with full cabin service for mining workers, creating a much improved travel experience and a happier and more productive workforce. The alternative to achieve this is to spend millions of dollars building a sealed runway.”

Cobham has so far modified two 71-seat BAe146 aircraft with “gravel kits” to enable landing on unsealed airstrips and is in the process of converting more aircraft in its FIFO fleet.

The introduction of gravel kit-equipped jets followed an 18 month period of trial flights and final approvals by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in January of this year.

The BAe146s were modified in Cobham’s Adelaide and Perth facilities by applying the approved BAE Systems airframe protection kit, which includes specialised rubber paint to protect the underside of the fuselage. A nose wheel stone deflector and Kevlar undercarriage shields around the main landing gear protects the undercarriage from dislodged gravel and debris during take-off and landing.

Nottage said that only the BAe 146, with its versatility, strength, and wing and undercarriage design could safely operate on gravel and unsealed strips in remote Australia.
“This really is a historic step for FIFO aviation in Australia,” said Nottage. “Cobham is the only Australian FIFO provider which offers jet passenger services to unsealed airstrips” and the only other known country in which it is being used is Mongolia.

“The successful introduction of the gravel kit modification is a testament to the innovation, safety and trust placed in us by our clients, and that sets Cobham apart in Australia’s highly competitive FIFO market”.

“Cobham is proud to be a partner and business enabler for successful companies operating in Australia’s booming mining and energy sectors.”

The gravel kit flight proving program was led by in-house technical pilot Captain Gordon Browne AO, formerly a test pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority was later involved as part of the certification of the necessary additions to the BAe146 flight manual for the modified aircraft.

Cobham Regional Services, which operates the FIFO services, has a fleet of 20 aircraft made up of BAe 146 and Avro RJ100 passenger jets and Dehaviland Dash 8 turboprop.

Cobham is currently demonstrating the enhanced service to existing customers and other interested parties.

About Cobham

Cobham specialises in meeting the demand for data, connectivity and bandwidth in defence, security and commercial environments. ...Offering a technically diverse and innovative range of technologies and services, the Group protects lives and livelihoods, responding to customer needs with agility that differentiates it. The most important thing we build is trust. Employing more than 10,000 people on five continents, the Group has customers and partners in over 100 countries.

About Cobham Aviation Services

Cobham Aviation Services provides specialist aviation solutions to Defence, Government and major commercial customers under long term performance based contracts. This includes operating the largest border protection civil maritime surveillance contract in the world for the Australian Government, supporting Qantas and numerous major resource industry clients across Australia, modern battle space air warfare training for the UK armed forces and NATO, providing air traffic control radar display software and aid calibration services to leading UK and European airports and with partner Bristow Helicopters training all helicopter pilots for the UK’s Navy, Air Force and Army through entity FB Heliservices.

With a combined fleet of over 150 fixed and rotary wing aircraft, Cobham Aviation Services is a trusted partner worldwide.

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Jet Systems (Pty) trading as Cobham Aviation Services

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