23 October, 2023

Saab 340 Performance and Versatility

What's the story about the Saab 340 turboprop..... the commuter regional airliner that offered performance and versatility.

The Saab 340 is a twin-engine turboprop aircraft that has left an indelible mark in the aviation industry since its introduction in the 1980s. Developed by the Swedish aerospace company Saab AB, the Saab 340 is an aircraft that worked hard for its operators and earned a reputation for its reliability, versatility, and outstanding performance in regional and commuter operations. With a blend of efficiency, comfort, and durability, the Saab 340 has become a popular choice among airlines around the world.

Design and Development

The design and development of the Saab 340 began in the late 1970s as a response to the growing demand for a capable regional airliner. Saab AB, known for its expertise in aerospace engineering, aimed to create an aircraft that combined short takeoff and landing capabilities with economical operations. The result was the Saab 340, a 30 to 36-seat aircraft with impressive performance characteristics.

The Saab 340 featured a high-wing configuration, providing excellent stability and increased ground clearance for operations on short runways. Its two turboprop engines, typically supplied by General Electric or Allison, delivered efficient power and allowed the aircraft to operate effectively in various weather conditions. The 340's advanced avionics and autopilot system further enhanced its safety and operational capabilities.

Performance and Versatility

One of the key strengths of the Saab 340 was its exceptional performance. The aircraft boasted a maximum cruise speed of approximately 287 knots (532 kilometres per hour) and a range of up to 1,560 nautical miles (2,890 kilometres). Its short takeoff and landing capabilities made it well-suited for operations to smaller airports and remote locations where larger aircraft couldn't operate efficiently.

The Saab 340's versatility extended beyond passenger operations. It could be easily reconfigured to accommodate cargo, providing a flexible solution for transporting both people and goods. The aircraft's robust structure and rugged landing gear allowed it to handle rough runway surfaces and challenging environments, making it a favourite choice for airlines operating in regions with diverse landscapes and unpredictable weather conditions.

Saab 340 aircraft have accumulated 16.7 million flight hours, or more than 1.900 years in the air.
The individual Saab 340 with the highest number of flight hours has been in the air for more than seven years.
The Saab 340 has carried 317 million passengers. That is the equivalent of carrying all residents of Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Canada combined.
The average Saab 340 in service today has only reached half of it’s design life and can fly for many years to come.
More than 450 flights/day are still being made in the Saab 340, or one every three minutes.

Operational Success and Legacy

The Saab 340 enjoyed considerable success throughout its operational history. It proved particularly popular among regional and commuter airlines, who appreciated its efficiency, reliability, and low operating costs. Many airlines praised the aircraft for its comfortable and spacious cabin, equipped with large windows and ample legroom, ensuring a pleasant flying experience for passengers.

Over 450 Saab 340 aircraft were produced, and they served a multitude of airlines worldwide. Major operators included regional carriers such as American Eagle, Crossair, and Loganair, among others. The aircraft's success extended to military and government use as well, with some modified versions serving as surveillance aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, and even air ambulances.

The Saab 340's legacy lives on even today, with several aircraft still in service around the world. Its enduring popularity can be attributed to its efficient operations, versatility, and the strong support provided by Saab AB and other third-party maintenance providers. The aircraft's ability to adapt to changing market conditions and evolving customer needs has allowed it to maintain relevance and serve as a reliable workhorse in regional aviation.

At the end of the day, the Saab 340 stands as a testament to Saab AB's engineering prowess and commitment to delivering high-quality aircraft. Its blend of performance, versatility, and reliability has made it a staple in regional and commuter aviation for decades. The Saab 340's impact on the industry cannot be overstated, and it continues to be recognized as a remarkable turboprop aircraft that has left an enduring mark on aviation history.

There is also still more the Saab 340 can offer,  the manufacturer recently unveiled the first Saab 340 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, handing over the first of the type to the Polish authorities at a ceremony in Linkรถping on 29th September. 

The Saab 340 AEW is equipped with the Erieye radar and will provide Poland’s Armed Forces with a national asset to reinforce territorial integrity and national security.  Saab 340 AEW, together with associated ground equipment, provides a detailed situational picture that can be used for military and civilian tasks including air surveillance and rescue operations. 

Different configurations of Saab’s Erieye AEW/AEW&C system have been sold to nine countries, making it one of the most widely used airborne surveillance systems in the world. 

“We are honoured to provide this important capability to Poland and proud to be quickly progressing towards the delivery of this airborne early warning system to the Polish Armed Forces,” says Carl-Johan Bergholm, head of Saab’s business area Surveillance.