Rekkof Aircraft, the Dutch company trying to bring Fokker F70 and F100 twinjets back into production, has said the uncertain status of the Fairchild Dornier regional jets and the demise of BAE Systems’ Avro RJX program have boosted its prospects. The firm has now joined Embraer and Bombardier in the race to win an order for up to 60 regional jets from German regional operator Lufthansa CityLine.
Boeing signaled its new resolve to target regional airline applications for its 100-seat 717-200 by putting an aircraft on static display at Salzburg Airport during the ERA assembly. This followed the U.S. airframer’s debut appearance at the annual ERA gathering in Athens, Greece, last year.
Orlando, Fla.-based low-fare carrier AirTran Airways took a page from the book of North America’s full-service airlines last month when it enlisted Air Wisconsin to replace some of its Boeing 717 capacity from Atlanta with 50-seat Bombardier CRJs.
Perhaps the most vital component in Bombardier’s C Series of single-aisle commercial jets will consist not of metal, pneumatics or electrical circuits, but money. By the end of last month the company expected to know the stakes governments would risk, as its February deadline for all to ante up approached. Unwilling to tip his hand, C Series program head Gary Scott wouldn’t reveal the number of U.S.
As the global economy slows and sales of current-generation regional jets reach a plateau, new designs conceived during the height of the regional-jet spending spree stand ready to vie for market acceptance at a time when ambivalence prevails throughout the industry.
Following production of the final Avro RJ, effectively the last new-build British airliner ever, BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has been restructured as a support company within its Aviation Services Group. Last November the company canceled the planned Avro RJX variant of the BAe 146 regional jet. “The removal of manufacturing means that we can concentrate on building a service business,” said new managing director Alan Fraser.
The bankruptcy administrators in charge of the operations of Ansett Airlines subsidiary Kendall Airlines and independent Ansett affiliate Hazelton Airlines have accepted a A$500,000 ($275,000) deposit from Australiawide Airlines as part of a tentative purchase agreement for both carriers.
Bombardier Aerospace’s case for the C Series may just have grown sounder last month as Boeing announced it would pull the plug on the 110- to 115-seat 717, the proposed Canadian jet’s main competitor. Boeing plans to end production of the weak-selling 717 by the middle of next year, after the last of a backlog of 18 airplanes rolls off its Long Beach assembly line.
The largest member of Embraer’s 170/190 family of single-aisle commercial jets–the 108-seat Embraer 195–took to the air for the first time on December 7 from the company’s production center in São Jose dos Campos, Brazil. The first prototype–a two-seat-row stretch of the 100-seat Embraer 190–validated systems operation and flight characteristics during its one-hour-and-56-minute mission.
The chasm separating the realm of full-size airliners and regional airplanes has claimed another victim, swallowing the Boeing 717 as surely as it did the Fokker 100 and British Aerospace 146/Avro RJ. So who, you ask, would dare tempt fate again? All signs point to Canada’s Bombardier.