View Full Version : What Is The BAe ATP Like To Fly?

BAe 146-100
24th May 2003, 21:16

Pilots, do you like flying the ATP. What is your favourite things about it and your least favourite things about flying it. Looking forward to your reply's. :D


BAe 146-100

El Desperado
25th May 2003, 09:45
I haven't flown this for some time now, so some of this may well be out of date. Not strictly a tech question, either, so this might well end up being moved somewhere else !


The ATP (or Skoda as it is unaffectionately known) is a bit of a dog in many respects. It has all the handling characteristics of a breeze block and very heavy controls. The controls are fly-by-wire and by that I mean a long piece of cable connects the control surfaces to the columns and pedals.

It is also a strange mix of old and new. Glass ADI and HSI, but tiny analogue engine instruments. The autopilot systems are odd, but allow (for example) a coupled VOR approach which none of the Boeing jets do. Pressurisation has to be manually set on arrival with the hapless FO converting QNH to a height difference from standard (1013), and then applying a reverse correction to a manual pressurisation controller. Get it wrong and a lot of people will have sore ears !

The RNAV equipment will not hold the aircraft in a straight line between about 330 and 030 degrees - it weaves about the plotted course in a bizarre sine pattern. A software bug, apparently, which BAe wanted too much cash to fix. So it wasn't ! No APU either.... another 250k BAe post-factory option which, unsurprisingly, no one took up.

Other niggles - I remember the fire bottle switches were on a hair trigger, even with the switch guards in place... a misplaced tap on the overhead panel whilst performing the octopus-like manoeuvre to check the fire systems would have a stream of foam hitting whoever was doing the walkaround at the time :) The overall placement of switches and lights in the cockpit was dreadful - an ergonomic nightmare.

Difficult to land nicely, especially due to the later flap modifications - it was very easy to run out of elevator in the flare, and is the only aircraft I currently know where the SOP is to trim in the flare. The landing gear problems are historical legend and speak for themselves. I will say no more, other than to mention that I think a gear/gear door engineering mod was in the pipeline to sort it out !

Dreadful performance, especially engine-out. Not dangerous (perf A aircraft obviously), but not comfortable.

However, that said.... it can take 66 passengers and a few tonnes of cargo into tiny airstrips in horrendous weather. I reckon the crosswind limit on it is very conservative, as I have seen (I stress seen, cough) this exceeded by a fair margin when there was no other choice in some rough places up North.

It is a fairly forgiving aircraft in most respects - very difficult to get yourself into an unrecoverable position with it, and can lose 1000ft per mile if required. Not many aircraft could get down from 15000 feet in 15 miles if the need arose. You could do 215 knots to about 3 miles in it and be comfortably at VRef, spooled up by 700 feet.

It is a large Seneca - the autopilot needed a bit of help in turns with the rudder... normally had to add a bit to help it out, but it taught proper flying. Whilst I said it was forgiving (it won't kill you), it is very unforgiving of poor technique.

The main complaints were reliability - the electrical systems especially. I remember asking bemused engineers and ground crews to blast hot air from the external cabin air/heating thingie into the electrical bay to unfreeze the inverters so we could get the thing fired up. The doors were also a bitch for the cabin crew to close (individually made for each aircraft and never fitted properly !). The autopilot also drops out in anything above light turbulence which is exactly when you want it on, really. Still, it was easy to hand fly - nothing happened too quickly and nine times out of ten the pilot could do a better job than the automatics - that's not true of most aircraft these days !

As you probably know, it was a development of the Budgie.. it was so nearly a good aircraft and the never-to-be-released Jetstream 61 went some way to correcting the faults of the ATP. Shame a political wrangle about Airbus parts meant BAe had to cut their protoypes up.

It might sound like I've overly criticised it - I learned a hell of a lot from flying it and the crews who still do have my respect - especially the Highlands & Islands peops who take it into some truly horrible places day after day.

BAe are giving them away with packets of cornflakes these days (I think the production run was somewhere along the 60 to 70 mark - hardly a success) and I believe BA are looking to offload their leases as soon as possible. Dog though it may be, I don't know what could replace it in Scotland... the ATR72 hasn't been particularly successful operating these routes, and everything else is significantly smaller.

Whatever the outcome, you won't get to fly it 146-100. It will almost certainly have gone the way of the dodo by the time you sit your licence exams. All pilots should fly something like this at some point in their career, even if just to remind themselves how good they have it now :ok:

Capt Claret
25th May 2003, 10:00
Much of your description could apply to the BAe146! :p

Fat Dog
27th May 2003, 18:12
Flew them for 2.5 years or so - El Desperado has got it pretty much spot on.

27th May 2003, 21:12
From the pax perspective ... Rode them for a number of years on the Luton Isle of Man with Manx Airways.

They were fine in fine weather but tended to be a bit skittish in wind. It did not feel like a substantial machine. Unlike the J41 that feels right for it's size, the ATP felt like it was stretched. Kinda glad that I had not read El Desperado's comments when I was a regular on it ... :eek: