Low-cost carrier (LCC) Ryanair has a reputation for their low fares and point-point routes between major cities across Europe. For anyone who has travelled on a Ryanair flight, the familiar sight is a Boeing 737 aircraft, either a Next Generation (NG) -800 variant, or the newer 737-MAX known at Ryanair as the 737-8200; But did you know the airline also operates a fleet of three Learjet aircraft, similar in specification to the types operating private and charter flights across the world? There’s just one catch though – you won’t be flying on any of these flights just yet, as they’re reserved for transporting maintenance crew and parts around the network as needed.
A Look at the Ryanair Fleet of Learjets
Ryanair acquired the first of the business jets in January 2012, with the jet having previously been operated by another airline. It was re-registered in the Isle of Man to leasing company Aviation Leasing (IOM) Ltd. Simiarily, Ryanair does not directly own the other two aircraft, with the aircraft are also leased via Aviation Leasing (IOM) Ltd. The three aircraft used today are:
- M-ABEU, 14 years old, acquired in January 2012.
- M-ABGV, 11 years old, acquired in June 2014.
- M-ABJA, 10 years old, acquired in December 2015.
These aircraft usually take a Ryanair callsign, but are not painted in the carrier’s livery – sorry for those who liked our feature image! To distinguish them from Ryanair’s larger jets, they often adopt the radios callsigns of FR1, FR2, and FR3, denoting them as maintenance operations rather than regular scheduled Ryanair flights.
What do Ryanair use the Learjets for?
These aircraft are smaller than Ryanair’s fleet of Boeing 737s, with a capacity of up to nine passengers. So, why did Ryanair decide to purchase these smaller aircraft?
The primary reason for Ryanair’s acquisition of Learjets is to facilitate the movement of its maintenance crew and parts across Europe. Learjets are known for their speed, and being smaller, their flexibility, which makes them ideal for transport of maintenance crew and components. With a top speed of 860 kilometers per hour, Learjets can reach many European cities faster than commercial airliners. Additionally, these aircraft can land at smaller airports that the B737NG flies into, making them perfectly suited for the Ryanair route network.
Whilst Ryanair does not make the details of this operation public, the expansion to three aircraft would suggest an efficient use for maintenance purposes, and a model that works well for the airline. Public ADSB data show M-ABJA travelled more than 956hours, and 360,000NM in the last twelve months (Jan 22 – Feb 23).
With a route network of over 1750+ routes and 400+ Boeing aircraft, these three Learjets keep spare parts and engineers flowing smoothly to the various components of Ryanair’s operation.
With such a focus on the mainline aircraft and routes themselves, it’s often easy to forget the essential ‘back-bone’ of operations required for the world’s airlines. Did you know about Ryanair’s Learjets before reading today? Let us know in the comments down below!