It took a while for the message to register, but Bombardier finally heeded the airline market’s counsel in late January and shelved its languishing C Series program. Although it will retain a staff of about 50 for studies on a small mainline jet, the company has begun shifting most of the financial and human resources once dedicated to the C Series to other programs, most notably studies on a new 90- to 100-seat regional jet.
Bombardier has decided to further increase production of its CRJ700 and CRJ900 regional jets to one aircraft every three days, the company announced today during a review of its third-quarter FY2008 financial results. In August Bombardier said it planned to boost the rate from this fiscal year’s 50 to 57 in FY09, but projections for further backlog growth have prompted the hike to 64 per year.
In the lexicon of regional airline training, European carriers confront a classic story line. As regional jets reached the market in the early 1990s, training facilities couldn’t meet the needs of launch customers. As demand increased, training centers began adding equipment, alleviating the problem to a large degree.
Montreal-based Project Phoenix has joined a growing number of companies offering a program to convert used Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets into executive aircraft that each sell for about $18 million complete. Project Phoenix is a partner in the program with Aerospace Concepts of Montreal and Action Aviation of the UK.
SkyWest Airlines last month said it plans to acquire 22 more regional jets as part of a strategy to retire 23 Embraer Brasilia turboprops and add 66-seat jet capacity to its United Express network. SkyWest also intends to swap four 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200s for four RJs configured with 76 seats under its Delta Connection banner.
The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) has demanded a “balanced approach” to environmental controls in the European Union transport industry following the publication of its new study on the noise performance of the continent’s regional airline fleet. The “Growing Quieter” report concluded that the noise generated by the average regional aircraft is about half what it was in the early 1970s.
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.
Faced with widespread uncertainty about an industry threatened by growing regulatory burdens, the specter of increased security fees and scope-clause restrictions, the Regional Airline Association did its best to lend some perspective and a sense of harmony during its annual convention, held May 12 to 15 in Nashville, Tenn.
The empty hangars at Oberpfaffenhofen airfield outside Munich reflect a stark impression of the decline Germany’s aerospace industry has experienced over the past decade. But if one were to look hard enough, signs of renewal have begun to emerge at this extensive industrial site, where Dornier GmbH built scores of aircraft for more than 60 years.
Bombardier Aerospace has begun staffing its freshly established new commercial aircraft division outside Montreal as it looks toward the launch of a new 115- to 135-seat jet by next spring. Still without an official designation, the proposed three-member family would propel the Canadian aerospace power outside its traditional realm of business aircraft and regional airliner assembly and into the company of Boeing and Airbus.