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.
As more signs of air transport recovery rise out of a global economy still hampered by geopolitical unrest, regional airlines continue to parlay their cost and flexibility advantages into steady gains in traffic and profits, even while their mainline counterparts struggle to reverse the near disastrous effects of 9/11, the invasion of Iraq and the outbreak of SARS in the Far East.
Regional jet salesmen must have cringed at the recent negative press surrounding passenger complaints about the lack of room in RJ cabins. What with all the good news about profits and traffic growth, the traveling public’s recognition that comfort must often take a back seat to seat-mile costs tossed a sour note into the industry’s chorus of praise for the anointed saviors of small- and medium-sized communities.