In the now obsolete aircraft that I once worked on category, the BAC 1-11 was produced in small numbers (244) by British Aircraft Corporation from 1963–1982 in the UK, and later until 1989 in Romania.
Dee Howard Company, known for its head-of-state mods and thrust reversers, embarked on a project to re-engine the BAC 1-11 with Rolls Royce Tay engines. A collaboration between Schwartz Engineering Company, Dee Howard, and Avionics Engineering Services, the San Antonio based aircraft underwent interior modifications, an electrical system retrofit, and an instrument panel re-design. By April 1997, Alenia of Italy had taken over Dee Howard Inc. and withdrew backing of the Tay engined BAC 1-11 at a fairly late stage in the certification program.
I would later work on other BAC 1-11 aircraft for Chrysler Corporation—an interior project for Pyka Design. Then a BAC 1-11-400 for H&M Holdings Ltd. underwent antenna installations, and instrument panel and avionics rack re-designs. On a third BAC 1-11, operated by Lukenbill Enterprises and Gary Aerospace of Hondo, Texas for transport of the Sacramento Kings basketball team, I worked with the design team on interior modifications and installations.
Among the now decommissioned places that I worked at are British Aerospace Aviation Services Filton in Bristol, England. The manufacture of aeroplanes started here in 1910, and the Concorde called Bristol home prior to closure of the airport in 2012.
Our team provided engineering analysis and structural substantiation to GECAS (GE Capital Aviation Services) on Airbus A300 modifications and interior components for charter operations.
Worked as liaison and design engineer on the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, the organization’s second generation aircraft. Medical and teaching facilities installed on the DC-10 aircraft bring training to doctors and nurses in developing countries. Equipped with a flight deck, classroom, technology center, and operating, treatment and recovery rooms to allow staff and volunteers travel to locations worldwide to operate the program.
Another nearly obsolete aircraft I’ve worked on is the BAe 146. I visited the Air Wisconsin facility in Appleton, WI in the early 90s, a place I would never have expected to return to. Unbeknownst to me at the time, EAA had a rapidly growing aviation hobby center about 20 miles to the south. In Appleton, I performed as a liaison engineer for Airworks / AES / Schwartz Engineering doing Satcom/ADF installations on a BAe146 Italian charter airline (Meridiana* if memory serves me. They operated BAe 146-200 aircraft from 1991 to 2004).
The BAe146 made its first flight in 1981. Renown as the most successful British civil jet airliner program, the 70-seat regional airliner was operated under United Express, a.k.a. Air Wisconsin. Approximately 387 (394) aircraft were produced. The Avro RJ was an improved version introduced in 1992. All BAe146 / Avro RJ production ended in 2002. Around 220 aircraft still operate worldwide in various roles. A conversion, popularized by the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Canadian firefighters, sees the Avro RJ and BAe 146 presently being used as airtankers.
*Meridiana was set up under the name of Alisarda on March 29, 1963 by Aga Khan Prince Karim Al Hussaini with the aim of promoting tourism in Sardinia. Scheduled flights commenced in 1964. The name was changed to Meridiana in 1991, the same year the company began its BAe146 operations.
One enduring aircraft that I worked on is the Lockheed P-3B Orion, a four-engine turboprop surveillance aircraft developed for the US Navy in the 1960s. Operated by NASA at Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia this ex-US Navy aircraft is used for low altitude heavy lift airborne science missions. It was modified to support passive microwave instruments, such as NOAA’s Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer, NASA’s 2-DSTAR, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s polarimetric scatterometer instruments.
Modifications to the P-3B were performed for NAVAIR, the US Navy’s Air Systems Command. At that time its purpose was “weather collection.” Today, the P-3C Orion is a land-based, long-range, anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft. Its mission includes surveillance of the battlespace, at sea and over land. The P-3 Orion excels at this task due in part to its long range and long loiter time. The project was in collaboration with Avionics Engineering Services and Associated Air Center in Dallas, Texas.