September 26, 2016: 25 years ago, on 25 September 1991, the first Jetstream 41 regional turboprop airliner took to the skies from Prestwick International Airport.
A total of 104 aircraft were built through to 1998 and around 64 of the 29-seat aircraft continue in service today with some 18 operators in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. A further 25 aircraft are currently stored, available to be returned to service. Over the life of the aircraft to date some 3.3 million cycles have been accumulated.
While most of the in-service aircraft continue to fly on airline duties, two of the largest operators have this year found new applications for the aircraft, underlining the aircraft’s flexibility for different roles.
In the UK, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has announced that it is trialling a Jetstream 41 from this month as part of a development to support its search and rescue (SAR) helicopters. The aircraft is provided by Eastern Airways (which has a fleet of 17 Jetstream 41s) on behalf of Bristow Helicopters and has a dedicated crew. The aircraft will be controlled through the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC), and will be tasked where there is a risk to life and in support of the Agency’s helicopters.
Painted in red and white HM Coastguard colours, the Jetstream 41 will be patrolling the southern and eastern seaboard of the UK.
The aim of the trial is to assess whether a fixed-wing aircraft will provide valuable additional support for the SAR helicopters. The new capability will help save lives at sea by identifying people, boats or ships in distress. The Agency states that if the trial is successful, options for permanent provision will be explored, possibly in combination with similar requirements elsewhere in Government.
In South Africa, leading regional carrier Airlink (which has a fleet of eight Jetstream 41s) has won two contracts from mining companies to operate scheduled mining support air services to the paved but narrow runway airfields at Tommy’s Field, Northern Cape Province and to Venetia in Limpopo Province. Services to both airfields commenced on 1 August.
These three-year contracts were awarded by Anglo American Limited subsidiaries Kumba Iron Ore for the Kolomela iron ore mine near to Tommy’s Field and by Venetia Mine which mines diamonds. In both cases the Jetstream 41 has replaced Beech 1900D aircraft on these services, giving significantly greater payload, and enhanced interior amenity to include a flight attendant, a galley for inflight catering and a toilet.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is supporting Airlink to approve Jetstream 41 operations to these narrow runways (Tommy’s Field runway width is 18 metres and Venetia is only 15 metres) because the aircraft is normally cleared to operate from runways of 30 metre width and above.
A new modification is being worked on for the Jetstream 41 incorporating the water methanol engine rating already fitted to the aircraft and a 15 degree flap setting which should improve payload by up to seven passengers at the 4360ft high altitude Tommy’s Field.
This narrow runway operation modification will derestrict the aircraft from operating in most narrow runway environments thereby enabling the Jetstream 41 to address many new market opportunities.
Photo Credit: BAE Systems Regional Aircraft