Farnborough Air Show

Bombardier sees need for 11,000 20- to 149-seaters over 20 years

 - November 27, 2006, 11:54 AM

For the first time, Bombardier Aerospace has revealed its expectations of the 100- to 149-seat commercial-aircraft market segment at which the proposed C Series jetliner would be aimed. The statistics appear in a 20-year forecast published here yesterday. The company also is considering possible 90- and 100-seat developments, respectively, of the established Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) and Dash 8 turboprop families, while continuing to mull potential demand for the C Series.

Overall, the Canadian manufacturer sees requirements for some 11,000 new 20- to 149-passenger commercial aircraft worth $370 billion over the next 20 years.

Bombardier details this demand as: 1,100 20- to 59-seater regional airliners; 4,100 regional airliners of 60 to 99 seats, “the current growth [area] for regional airlines” that it said is driven by seat-mile cost and fleet specialization issues; and 5,800 aircraft in the 100- to 149-passenger category that primarily comprises mainline and low-fares airlines.

Rationalizing perceived demand for the C series (in a segment served by the Airbus A318/A319 and Boeing 737-600, as well as the Embraer 195 at the bottom end), Bombardier strategy and business development vice president Michael McAdoo said airlines focus increasingly on cost optimization and capacity restraint, with traffic flowing to lower-cost providers, such as low-fares carriers or regional operators that offer low-cost service.

McAdoo said that with continued pressure on yields–down almost 50 percent in Europe during 1991 to 2005, according to the Association of European Airlines–there is no relief from rising airline costs. Accordingly, a structural shift is taking place whereby lower-cost airlines will gain market share. In line with this trend, he claimed that a new larger regional jet that would be operated under a typical regional-airline structure would be an attractive proposition.

The company sees a split market in the 100- to 149-seat sector, of which some 52 percent of demand would be for replacement of current aircraft. Of the balance, a 32-percent share would account for growth, while the remaining 16 percent would be new markets.

Bombardier regards the C Series project’s 110- to 130-seat target sector as “the next natural step.” If it goes ahead, the proposed design would be “the first design focused on the 90- to 149-seat segment,” according to McAdoo.

The manufacturer argues that in the 100- to 140-seat category current entrants are either stretched or shrunk from designs aimed at other markets.

Looking at Bombardier’s range of regional airliners, McAdoo said 79 Dash 8-Q400 turboprops and 75 CRJ900s had been ordered in the 24 months since Farnborough International 2004.

Claiming that it would be “the first time ever that a turboprop this size had entered the market,” the official disclosed that Bombardier is studying a possible Dash 8-Q400X to carry 80 to 90 passengers. There is a similar study under way for a 98- to 100-passenger CRJ900X. Both projected new variants are estimated to provide 8- to 10-percent reductions in costs, compared with existing Bombardier offerings.

Asked if it was a choice between CRJ900X and the proposed C series, McAdoo said: “We are evaluating both. There will be independent decisions [about aircraft designed] for individual niche markets.” He said they represented solutions of “different orders of magnitude.”