The SAAB 91D four-seat civil and military primary trainer was the fourth basic version of the
SAAB 91 Safir that flew for the first time on 20 November 1945. The initial model, the SAAB 91A,
was powered by a 145 hp Gipsy Major X engine. The SAAB 91B, which appeared in 1951, differed primarily
in having a 190 hp Lycoming O-435-A engine. This model was ordered by the Swedish Air Force and was
largely built by "de Schelde" in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, as the SAAB
factories were fully committed at that time. Safir production returned to
Sweden in 1954 and the company announced the Model 91C which had been
modified to include a fourth seat. In 1957, the SAAB 91D with
the smaller 180 hp Lycoming O-360-A1A four-cylinder air-cooled engine followed
and joined the 91C at the production line. A total of 323 Safirs were built,
including 120 under licence by de Schelde in Dordrecht, the Netherlands.
The RLS, based at Groningen Airport Eelde, operated 23 Saab 91D aircraft over the years.
In 1950, the Rijksluchtvaartdienst purchased eight SAAB 91A Safir for the RLS. In 1959,
the SAAB 91A was replaced in service with the Rijksluchtvaartschool by the SAAB 91D with
a smaller but more powerful engine and more space. On 16 October 1959, SAAB 91D Safir s/n 91.367
was registered PH-RLA with Rijksluchtvaartdienst, Den Haag, as owner. The SAAB 91D Safir PH-RLA
entered service with the RLS the same month. On 22 September 1970, SAAB 91D Safir PH-RLA was registered
with Staat der Nederlanden/Rijksluchtvaartschool, Eelde, and as before operated by the RLS. After the SAAB
91D PH-RLA was withdrawn from use by the Rijksluchtvaartschool, registration PH-RLA was cancelled on 17 December
1979. The aircraft was stored at Eelde until the SAAB was sold in 1987 to a privat owner in Rotterdam. On 30
October 1990, after being restored in flying condition, the SAAB 91D Safir was registered again as PH-RLA. Over
the years there have been several changes several of owners, but the important thing is ththis SAAB is still flyworthy.
On 19 April 2023, the 1959-built SAAB 91D Safir PH-RLA was seen in its original RIJKSLUCHTVAARTSCHOOL
HOLLAND colors at Flugplatz Leer-Papenburg in Germany.