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Our fleet – AVRO RJ 100 – 2/5

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The Avro RJ100, affectionately known in Switzerland as the “Jumbolino”, is the smallest aircraft in the SWISS fleet. This aircraft is the first to be featured in our series on the SWISS fleet.

The AVRO is easily recognisable thanks to its T-shaped tailfin and its high-wing design. We operate the RJ 100 in a two-class configuration accommodating 78-97 passengers. Including two pilots, two flight attendants, passengers and full cargo payload, the AVRO has a maximum take-off weight of 44,999 kg. The AVRO measures 31 metres in length and stands 8.59 metres high. Its wingspan of 26.34 metres is the shortest in the SWISS fleet.

AVRO International Aerospace, a subsidiary of British Aerospace designed and built the AVRO RJ family of aircraft in the 1990s. The Avro RJ 100 undertook its maiden flight in 1992 and remains in commercial service up to the present day. The aircraft is powered by four LF 507-1F engines, each with thrust of 3,181 kg, which is roughly equivalent to the pulling power of seven adult Asian elephants. With its four engines, the AVRO is capable of a top speed of 780km/h. The aircraft is equipped with integral airstairs and an auxiliary power unit (APU), a combination that enables it to function independent of airport ground equipment.

With a range of 3,000 km, the SWISS version of the AVRO serves such destinations as London, Birmingham, Lyon, Nice and Frankfurt. Thanks to its ability to take off from and land on short runways, the Avro RJ 100 is one of the few aircraft types permitted at London City Airport, which has a take-off runway length of 1199 metres and requires aircraft certified for an angle of approach of 5.5 degrees.

Many aviators describe the experience of piloting an AVRO as “real” flying. Markus Juchli, Senior Manager Deputy Postholder Crew Training, explains this notion as follows: “The opportunity to fly to airports that have short runways and require special approach procedures offers pilots variety and a challenge in their daily work. The AVRO’s cockpit technology requires pilots to have a high level of technical know-how and good overall flying skills. The AVRO is easy to fly and is known as a ‘good natured’ aircraft with good characteristics.”

The AVRO RJ is piloted by conventional methods. This means that commands given by the pilot via the cockpit control column are conveyed, in some cases with hydraulic support, to the flight control surfaces – in contrast to aircraft operated by the transmission of electronic signals to computer systems. An AVRO pilot is required to input commands manually to adjust or correct the aircraft’s position according the current flying conditions, without the support of a computer. An aircraft with conventional controls is also equipped with an auto-pilot system; in the case of the AVRO RJ this can be used to land the aircraft in fully automatic mode. Pilots readily switch on auto-pilot as circumstances require.

At present, SWISS operates 20 AVRO RJ aircraft, with an average age of 13.5 years. As of 2014 these aircraft will be replaced over a two-year period with the Bombardier CSeries aircraft, which have been chosen largely on the basis of their greater passenger comfort, lower operating costs, significantly quieter engines and lower CO2 emissions.

You can find photographs of all of our Avro RJ 100s on Flickr. You’ll notice that three of them appear in distinctive livery: HB-IYU and IYV both have a Star Alliance livery, while the livery of HB-IYS depicts scenes from life in Canton Appenzell.

In our next blog we will turn our attention to the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.