Featured image: Saab

6/15/1984: Saab 340 Enters Service with Crossair

DALLAS – Today, in 1994, The Saab 340 entered service with launch customer Crossair (LX) in 1984.

The flight from Basel (BSL) to Paris (CDG) carried several notable dignitaries, including Pope John Paul II.

Crossair received its first example on June 6. The airline became pivotal in the design and development of the aircraft, with Moritz Suter, LX CEO and President, saying, “You build it, and I’ll buy 50.”

The Swiss regional airline was headquartered on the grounds of EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg in Saint-Louis, Haut-Rhin, France, near Basel, Switzerland. After a major restructuring involving Swissair, the name "Crossair" was replaced with "Swiss International Air Lines" on the head office building in 2002.

Crossair would operate a total of 45 340s from 1984 to 2002. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt/ GFDL 1.2

Development

The Swedish manufacturer began the development of the 340 in 1974, moving away from its predominantly military portfolio. In January 1980, Saab entered a partnership with US plane maker Fairchild Aircraft, and the type became known as the Saab-Fairchild SF340.

This joint venture lasted until October 1985, when Fairchild decided to end its airliner business, and the name was dropped from the project.

On October 27, 1982, the prototype (SE-ISF) was unveiled in front of a thousand spectators at a special ceremony. Its maiden flight took place on January 25, 1983, from its home base in Linköping, Sweden. A meticulous flight test program followed, with 24 flights carried out in just four weeks.

Cincinnati-based Comair (OH) was the US launch customer of the SF340. Photo: JetPix/GFDL 1.2

Joint European Certification

In total, Saab carried out 1,731 test flights over 585 hours. This helped the 340 become the first aircraft to work towards Joint European Certification, JAR 25. Previously, this had been the responsibility of individual countries.  

In 1989, Saab created a freighter version, the S340QC (Quick Change). It also developed an updated variant, the 340B. It had more powerful engines, larger horizontal stabilizers, and an active, noise and vibration control system.

Saab would produce 459 340s over 16 years. It became the world’s best-selling commuter aircraft. LX would become one of its biggest operators.

Featured Image shows Pope John Paul II, seen in front of Crossair Saab 340 (HB-AHA).

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