DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the prototype Saab 2000 took to the skies for the first time in 1992. At the controls were pilots Eric Sjöberg and Lennart Nordh. The flight test engineers were Sture Rodling and Anders Bergstrand.
Swedish plane maker Saab Scania had already found success in the regional turboprop market with its 340 airliner. Saab looked at creating a larger, faster variant, perceived to meet the demand for the 50-seater market.
Utilizing the new state-of-the-art computer-aided three-dimensional interactive application, computer-aided design, or CATIA CAD for short, the development of the Saab 2000 was way ahead of its time.
Issues with the types powerful Allison GMA 2100 turboprop engines led to numerous delays with the program. Certification was finally granted in March 1994.
However, its engines also gave the Saab 2000 enormous thrust. This allowed the type to become one of the fastest turboprop aircraft globally, with a maximum cruising speed of 682km/h (368kt). It remains around 100 km/h higher than competing models such as the ATR-42, Fokker 50 and Dash-8-300.
Swiss regional carrier Crossair (LX) received its first machine (HB-IZC) on August 30, 1994. The airline became the largest operator of the type flying 34 examples. LX was so impressed with the Saab 2000 that it dubbed it ‘Concordino’, highlighting the type’s impressive performance.
Sadly, the type was not as successful as Saab had hoped. Competition from regional jet aircraft such as the Embraer and Canadair regional jets led to the program’s termination in 1999. Saab delivered the last example (HB-IYH) to LX on April 29, 1999.
Featured image: The Saab 2000 prototype. Photo: Ken Fielding/https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenfielding, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons