@Thiel: believe it or not, but I had no knowledge of that SABA project, and made up the Dragun all by myself.
And now to something completely different:
A little overview at Thiaria's flag carrier, the South Atlantic Airways (Aerlinai na h-Atlantach Deisceart)
The company was founded in 1933 as National Southern Airways (Aerlinai Naisiunta na Deisceart) and disbanded again in 1946 when Thiaria was prohibited to operate airplanes of any kind (several US carriers, particularly Braniff and TWA, operated Thiaria's domestic routes from 1946). Thiaria regained limited sovereignty over her airspace in 1955 in the wake of German rearmament; this was granted freely by the USA, since they would not treat the Thiarians, who had not committed any significant war crimes, worse than the Germans, who had. Aerlinai Naisiunta na Deisceart was re-established in 1957 and equipped with a ragtag fleet of two dozen US supplied used piston and turboprop driven aircraft for domestic service; it took them till 1960 to gain a significant foothold on Thiaria's domestic market against strong US competition; the introduction of the Caravelle in 1961 helped a lot. Another four years passed till the first international routes were opened, using Douglas DC8-31s; with the acquisition of the Aerlinai Aontach (United Airlines), an ancient, but rather bankrupt small airline, the name of the Company changed to South Atlantic Airways (Aerlinai na h-Atlantach Deisceart, usually shortened to Atlantach). In 1969, the airline was nationalized as Thiaria embarked on a rather pathetic attempt to make socialism work, and over the next five years, several Soviet aircraft types were introduced. Thiaria had just acquired a production license for the Ilyushin Il-62 when the alliance with the Soviets ruptured in 1974 over Thiaria's refusal to enter the OPEC oil embargo against the west. During the oil boom of the following ten years, the fleet was modernized and massively expanded; by 1985, total number of aircraft exceeded a hundred. Thiaria kept building Il-62s even after the license was revoked, and in 1978, they became the main producer of a massively enhanced development of the Dassault Mercure, commissioning some 50 units with Atlantach and selling over 120 abroad till 1992.They became a large Airbus customer from that company's earliest days; although they had no requirement for the A300, they bought all other Airbus models in considerable numbers. Although the Airline had no commuter service prior to 2005, they acquired the bankrupt regional airline Southern Cross Aviation (Eitiliocht na Chros Deisceart) and purchased eighty domestically produced Fairchild-Dornier 728s and 928s to completely revamp the commuter fleet. By 2014, Atlantach is Thiaria's sole international carrier, operates a fleet of 172 machines (to be 192 in 2025) and serves 18 domestic and 107 international destinations in 69 countries.
Eight DC8-31s were delivered in the early sixties to serve Thiaria's first international routes to the USA (via Peru) and Europe (via Liberia). One crashed into the Atlantic in the 1970s with over 100 victims. They were replaced by Airbus A310s in the early 1980s.
Thiaria operated a total of 60 Caravelles over the years, including 8 Caravelle Is, 4 Caravelle IIIs, 36 Caravelle VIs and 12 Caravelle XIIs. They operated mainly domestic routes, but also flew to various South American destinations. They were comfortable and popular with their passengers and suffered no lethal accidents in Thiarian service. They were replaced with Dassaut Mercures in the 1970s and 1980s.
in pre-1975 livery
in 1975-2002 livery
Twelve such planes were supplied by the Soviets in 1970 through 1972 as a gesture of good will. They were instantly unpopular due to their dangerous flight characteristics and poor ergonomics and did not remain in service for very long; three had to be written off after accidents, all of them during the takeoff phase, with over 120 victims. By 1982, all were phased out.
The other main Soviet type in Atlantach's inventory was much more popular than the Tu-134. 4 Il-62s and 2 Il-62Ms were delivered from Russia in 1972 and 1974, and 24 Il-62Ms were produced in Thiaria from 1977 through 1982 under a license acquired in 1974 and revoked again in 1976. 18 of these were refitted with two GE CF6-80s high-bypass turbofans replacing their original four turbojets from 1988 through 1991, and they proved very reliable and popular; they had slightly more engine power than the original four-engined version, consumed considerably less fuel and could carry more payload over a greater range (11.000 kilometers). They served all long-range routes worldwide; over the years, there were three hull-loss accidents, one of them a midair collision with a Nigerian Boeing 727 (total 319 casualties including the 727s passengers). The non-refitted machines were replaced with Airbus A340-200s from 1993, the re-engined machines were replaced with Airbus A330-300s between 1998 and 2002.
Basic version in pre-1975 livery
Up-engined version with CF6-80 turbofans in 1975-2002 livery
Dassault Mercure / Mearcair
The original Dassault Mercure 100 was too short-ranged to be of any interest for the Thiarians, but the improved development Mercure 200 with CFM-56 high-bypass turbofans and twice the range of the original was considered so attractive that they financed Dassault the entire development expenses and acquired a production license in 1978. 16 Mercure 200s and 36 stretched Mercure 300s were commissioned with Atlantach between 1980 and 1992; more than twice that number from Thiarian production were sold abroad, mainly in Europe; production nevertheless failed to reach the break-even point of 220 machines, resulting in the demise of the Aerlar company that produced the Mercure (called Mearcair by the Thiarians) and its acquisition by SCI. The type was very successful and exceptionally reliable; apart from incidents which were intentionally perpetrated (three hijackings, one in-flight bombing and two attacks on aircraft on the ground in civil war situations), there were no passenger casualties at all with this type and only four hull-loss accidents. Currently, 32 Mearcair 200s remain in service with Atlantach, but will be replaced by Airbus A321neos from 2017; the older ones have been replaced with Airbus A319s. Another 70 machines are still operating with other airlines, most in Africa after being sold off by various European airlines.
Mearcair 200 in 2975-2002 livery
Mearcair 300 in post-2002 livery
During the oil boom of the late seventies, nothing was expensive and extravagant enough for the Thiarians, and consequently, six Concordes were ordered in 1978 for delivery in 1980 through 1981. They only served the routes to Paris and JFK. They were decommissioned between 2002 and 2004, mostly for environmental reasons and because they had reached the limit of their projected service life; there were no accidents in Thiarian service.
12 A310-300s were delivered from 1984 through 1986, replacing Atlantach's DC-8s and mainly serving South American and African routes. One hit a mountain in the Andes in 2000 with 177 casualties (the last lethal accident in Atlantach's history to this day), the others were retired in 2005 through 2008 and replaced with Airbus A340-600s.
Atlantach acquired 12 A320-100s in 1992 for high-capacity domestic routes, expanding the existing fleet of Mercures. They were delivered from 1993 through 1995 and will be replaced with A321neos from 2015.
Thiaria was one of the first customers for the long-range Airbus A340-200 and received 12 machines from 1993 through 1995, mainly for flights to the far East and the Antarctic route to Australia, but also for non-stop routes to Europe. When the stretched A340-600 with a range of 14.000 kilometers became available, Atlantach acquired no less than 30 of them between 2005 and 2012, making them the largest user of that type worldwide. They serve every long-range route Atlantach has to offer, almost all of them (bar only Tokyo, Taipeh and Seoul) non-stop. The A340-200s are slated to be replaced with A350s from 2018; there are no plans yet to retire the A340-600s.
A340-200 in 1975-2002 livery
A340-600 in post-2002 livery
16 of these planes were commissioned between 1998 and 2002 to replace the license-produced Il-62s for service on Atlantach's African and South American routes. They will be replaced with A350s some time after 2020.
16 of the short-hull long-range version of the A320 family were acquired to replace the Mearcair 200 between 2005 and 2008. They are capable to reach several minor destinations in South America, and they are currently the only Atlantach aircraft to serve routes to Brazil; due to the still very strained relationships between both countries, there is not enough traffic between them to warrant a bigger plane.
8 A380-800 behemoths have been ordered in 2007 and 2011 in two batches of 4; they are no replacements for anything, but expand the long-range fleet. They serve the most prestigeous routes to Europe (Lisbon, Paris, Frankfurt) and the USA (Los Angeles, Dallas, JFK). 4 more have been ordered in 2013 for delivery in 2016/7.
Fairchild-Dornier 728/928jet Toscaire
After the bankruptcy of Fairchild-Dornier in 2003, Thiaria's technology megacompany SCI acquired the design and started to mass-produce it in 2008 under the name Toscaire (Ambassador). By 2014, there are over 400 orders, pushing the plane far beyond the break-even point already. Atlantach ordered 40 728s and 40 928s for its newly established regional service; 32 728s and 14 928s are in service already.
32 machines are on order to replace the Airbus A320s and the remaining Mearcairs, beginning in 2015; the numerical decrease (32 to replace 44) is offset by the availability of an increasing number of Toscaires who can do the same job more economically.
The current fleet of A340-200s and A330-300s will be replaced and expanded by a total of 32 A350-900s between 2018 and 2024.