Embraer appears to hold a surprisingly strong position in a contest with Bombardier to supply more 70-seat jets to Comair after new president Fred Buttrell issued an apparent endorsement of the Brazilian 70-seater in a letter to employees. Now flying 137 fifty-seat Bombardier CRJ200s and 27 CRJ700s, Comair would take another 10 CRJ200s and as many as 25 seventy-seaters if pilots agree to wage freezes and a one-year contract extension.
In a scenario all too familiar since the advent of the regional jet age, the pilots of Air Canada and its regional airline subsidiary, Air Canada Jazz, could hold the key to the insolvent company’s plans to field at least 90 new jets from Bombardier and Embraer.
Transcripts released by the FAA early last month reveal that the pilots of the Pinnacle Airlines CRJ200 that crashed in Jefferson City, Mo., on October 18 purposely climbed to 41,000 feet to “have a little fun” before the jet, its 50 passenger seats empty, lost power and began a rapid descent. “We don’t have any passengers on board so we decided to have a little fun and come on up here,” said one of the pilots.
Embraer commercial vice president Fred Curado told AIN last month that he expected an order from China Eastern Airlines for 10 Harbin-Embraer ERJ 145s “sooner rather than later.” The contract would come as a blow to Bombardier, which has already delivered eight CRJ200s to China Eastern, one of which crashed into a frozen lake outside Baotou, Mongolia, on November 23, killing 53.
Pilot incapacitation at the end of the approach phase might have caused a Brit Air CRJ100 to crash about a mile-and-a-half short of the runway at Brest Guipavas airport in France on June 22.
A Mesa Airlines Bombardier CRJ200 shed a fan blade and lost the front section of its left engine cowling during a scheduled flight from Denver to Phoenix last Thursday. Operating for US Airways as America West Express, Mesa Flight 2985 had flown some 60 miles south from Denver International Airport when, at about 5:30 p.m. MST, the airplane’s No. 1 GE CF34-3B1 turbofan ejected the blade.
Bombardier CRJ200, Inner MongolIa, China, Nov. 21, 2004–Only 12 seconds after taking off from Baotou en route to Shanghai, the CRJ operated by China Eastern Airlines as Flight Mu5210 crashed into an ice-covered lake in the Nanhai Park, killing the six crewmembers, 47 passengers and apparently two park workers on the ground.
Bankrupt Air Canada last month signed a pair of MOUs that call for a split order for 90 airplanes from Bombardier of Canada and Embraer of Brazil. The transactions, which would include firm orders for 15 Bombardier CRJ200s, 30 CRJ700s and 45 Embraer 190s, remain subject to Air Canada’s ability to attract $4 billion in new investment upon emerging from bankruptcy protection.
Bombardier announced plans to cut this year’s CRJ200 production by another 20 percent just days after Standard & Poor’s lowered the company’s credit rating to junk status and issued a “negative” outlook for Bombardier’s regional jet prospects.
Northwest Airlines will have to add a third regional partner if it wants more 50-seat jets for its Northwest Airlink division, according to an agreement with its pilots to limit the number of regional jets it leases to Pinnacle and Mesaba Airlines.