Its fair to say independent UK charter airline, Jota Aviation is an admirer of the BAe-146 / RJ-85 aircraft, having operated a number of them since beginning flights in 2009. Spotting a niche, to meet travel and cargo demands in association with the motorsport industry, Jota evolved beyond providing flight services for motorsport, to offering full charter flights and wet lease services for established airlines. Regulars on the ramp at Dublin Airport, both on charters and filling capacity for CityJet, Aer Lingus and British Airways.
Based at London Southend Airport, Jota Aviation fly an Avro RJ-85 (G-JOTR) and RJ-100 (G-JOTS) in a passenger role, with quick change of cabin configuration permitting seating for 95 to 97 or when demand requires, a low as 50 seats, giving ample leg room for smaller intimate groups.
Mid 2018 saw the airline enter the full air-freight market, a move seen as a reaction against having all ones eggs in the one basket, so to speak. And what aircraft to use for cargo purposes? One the company were already very familiar with. This resulted in the acquisition of four BAe-146-300 QTs, from former operator ASL Airlines Spain, with all four having EC registrations.
Each of the four QTs having recently celebrated their 30th anniversary, are only getting into their stride and have plenty to offer. QT indicating “Quiet Trader” was the title given to the 300 series freighter version, having gained a 2.34m fuselage stretch over the 146-200. The QT has a useful 12 tonne gross payload capability and apart from being without cabin windows, a large offset cargo door located aft the left-side wing is an obvious external feature.
With a simple but smart, recognisable livery, Jota uses callsign 'ENZO' when communicating with Air Traffic Control, a name that suggests the Jota Groups’ motorsport roots and the evocative Ferrari brand, even the stylised text used for the Jota logo oozes speed and motion.
One of these quad-jet freighters visited Dublin Airport recently for the first time as G-JOTE. Tuesday 9th of February started off with a short 30 min hop from Biggin Hill Airport to Birmingham. From where “ENZO” travelled onwards to Dublin, arriving at 18:12 for an overnight. The following day, presumably having unloaded and loaded, the QT was on the move by 12:25 for its departure and back to London Stansted before another trip to Birmingham and onwards to Ostrava, the Czech Republic. While the airline has had involvement in transporting PPE for the NHS, this particular set of flights has probably more association with the automotive industry.
Traditionally enthusiasts look upon freighters as noisier, fuel guzzling, unkempt and generally a greater amount of drama surrounding one’s departure. Jota Aviation’s “Whisperjet” freighters do their best to turn all that on-it’s-head. A sign of the times perhaps or proof the BAe-146 was, for it’s time, ahead of the game.
Photo by RJE Aviation Images