Monochrome Monday this week serves as a WordPress, black & white shout out to my favorite passenger jet, the Avro Regional Jet or Avro RJ. The Avro RJ is a short-haul and regional airliner that was manufactured in the United Kingdom by British Aerospace from 1983 to 2001. The model was originally designated the BAe 146.
My fondness for this aircraft stems from many enjoyable Avro RJ flights in the 1990s and early 2000s. Mesaba Aviation, a subsidiary of Northwest Airlines, operated them in Northwest livery on regional flights in the Midwest United States. At that time, I flew Northwest, which merged with Delta Air Lines in 2009, almost exclusively.
The model Mesaba operated, the Avro RJ85 or ARJ85, could carry just over 100 passengers. Limitations in the Northwest pilot’s collective bargaining agreement limited the size of regional jets to 69 passengers.
Consequently, seating in the ARJ85 was spacious to say the least. First class consisted of 16 huge, plush recliner seats that were the largest in the domestic fleet. Standard coach seats were wider and had about three more inches of legroom than standard Delta coach seats do today.
Not only is the ARJ spacious and comfortable, being upgraded to first class was virtually a cinch. Nearly one in every four seats on the Mesaba ARJ was in first class. No other airliner I know of has such a high ratio of first class to coach. When flying with my wife and son, it was easy to get both of them upgraded on the ARJ.
The ARJ is also just a cool-looking jet. Four engines is unique for a regional airliner and makes the Avro RJ instantaneously recognizable. The resulting higher maintenance costs from having four engines compared to two engines is one of the reasons airlines have phased out this model.
Other features that make this plane look cool are the cantilevered high wing and T Tail. A high wing gives passengers much better views of the ground.
One of the primary reasons that airlines liked the ARJ was its ability to land and takeoff from airports that require steep approaches or have short runways. As an example, ARJs operate easily from London City Airport, which is inaccessible to many regional commercial airliners. Airlines serving London are very interested in flying to London City because of the large expense accounts in the nearby London financial district.
I fondly remember flights with family and coworkers on the Avro Regional Jet, Britain’s most successful jet airliner. ARJs were my favorite for traveling in domestic coach or first class. Have you flown the Avro RJ? Do you have a favorite commercial airliner as far as looks or comfort?