Air Transport World

Smooth sailing: regional airlines may be struggling, but regional OEMs are doing just fine.(REGIONAL AIRFRAMES)

MANUFACTURERS OF REGIONAL aircraft experienced another good year in 2007 as orders for turboprops and large regional jets more than offset the absence of sales for 50-seat RJs. The transition to 70/90-seat jets meant plenty of business for Bombardier and Embraer, while soaring fuel costs helped push sales of ATR 42/72 and Q400 turboprops to record levels. Poised to enter the regional market within the next 12-24 months are new offerings from Russia and China, while Mitsubishi plans to have its 70/90-seat Mitsubishi Regional Jet in service in 2013.


Probably the biggest story was the resurgence of Bombardier, which booked orders for 238 CRJ and Q series aircraft last year, vastly improved from 87 in 2007. "We're very happy. The story for Bombardier is that there's been a rebound," Regional VP-Markets and Airline Analysis Barry MacKinnon tells ATW. "We went through some lean years and now we've come back." The company's regional aircraft deliveries rose 14% to 128 in FY07 from 112 the year before. Reflecting the shift to larger RJs, it delivered 56 CRJ900 and CRJ900 NextGen aircraft compared to 50 the previous year. It produced 47 Q400s, up from 31 a year earlier.

Last June, Bombardier introduced the Next Generation version of the CRJ700/900 family offering a fuel burn savings of up to 4% and featuring cabins with greater use of composite materials. Windows have been enlarged, increasing the overall viewing area by 24%, and new LED lighting and redesigned sidewall and ceiling panels create the look and feel of a larger aircraft. Overhead bin space will accommodate a larger roller bag, upping stowage by nearly 27%. Northwest Airlines is the launch customer for the CRJ900 NextGen with 36 on order.

Since Bombardier launched its 100-seat CRJ1000 program in early 2007, it has tallied 39 firm orders with first deliveries slated for the fourth quarter of 2009. The 1000 is 3 m. longer than the 900 with an MTOW of 91,800 lb. …

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