Fitting salute for final BAe 146 flight in WA
One of the instantly recognisable aircraft in the skies over WA touched down for the final time this week, with the last BAe 146 completing its final flight into Perth Airport on Thursday 4 November.
The Cobham Aviation aircraft was greeted with a water cannon salute when it completed its final FIFO flight for Minara Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of Glencore from its Murrin Murrin operations in the Goldfields north-east of Perth, landing at Perth Airport at approximately 8.05pm.
The BAe 146, which celebrated its 40th anniversary worldwide in September, has always stood out to travellers and aviation enthusiasts alike due to its four low-slung jet engines sitting under the wings and its T-shaped tail.
The aircraft has been operating in WA since 1985, initially with Ansett and Cobham (formerly operating as National Jet Systems).
Cobham Business Development Director, Tim Pirga, said a large number of West Australians would have flown on a BAe 146 at some time in their life, whether travelling to regional WA destinations or working in the mining industry.
“The BAe 146 has been a workhorse of regional aviation in WA for many years. At their peak there would have been up to 16 of these aircraft operating in our State,” Mr Pirga said.
“From Perth, our fleet has operated regular passenger transport services on behalf of QantasLink, FIFO flights for major clients in the resources industry, including Minara Resources (Murrin Murrin) for over 20 years, and ad hoc charters throughout Australia and South East Asia. We’ve run charters to Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final and to destinations in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.”
“These aircraft have proved extremely versatile due to their short take-off and landing capacity and low noise profile - they have been particularly popular on short to medium haul flights to regional destinations.”
Since 1990, National Jet Systems and Cobham have operated 33 BAe 146 aircraft.
Cobham fitted several of the aircraft with a ‘gravel kit’ which allowed for high-capacity jet operations to more remote mine sites in WA.
The fleet supported FIFO contracts with clients such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Anaconda (Murrin Murrin). Commercial flights also operated to Cocos Island and Christmas Island.
As part of its fleet review, Cobham is consolidating BAe 146 operations to SA. It will operate Embraer 190 and De Havilland Q400 aircraft to continue servicing the WA FIFO market.
See video footage below: