Bombardier Aerospace expanded its U.S. heavy maintenance presence last month with the official opening of a 131,000-square foot facility in Tucson, Ariz. Bombardier Regional Aircraft Services joins fellow subsidiary West Virginia Air Center as the centerpiece ofthe company’s efforts to exploit the increasing overhaul needs of a maturing nationwide fleet.
Mesa Air Group
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.
GE Capital Aviation Services has amplified threats to withdraw its regional jet financing deals with US Airways if pilots do not accept a revised letter of agreement (LOA 91) to loosen restrictions on RJ placement outside the airline’s wholly owned subsidiaries.
United Airlines earlier this month formally rejected its code-share contract with Atlantic Coast Airlines, freeing the Sterling, Va.-based regional to speed preparations for its launch of Independence Air–the planned new discount carrier slated to fly from Washington Dulles Airport. The long-time partners have agreed to begin the separation process on June 4 and complete the divorce by August 5.
The regional airlines became an economic safety net of sorts after September 11, when the majors quickly realized they could not survive flying large airplanes nearly empty. The options–cut flights and market presence entirely or replace mainline jets with smaller aircraft–presented airlines with a clear course of action. Code-sharing regional airliners quickly delivered cost-effective solutions.
Never one to shy away from controversy, Mesa Air Group chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein has announced that his airline will begin training its pilots to carry taser weapons in the cockpit. A Mesa spokesperson said the airline expected to complete training and FAA coordination for the plan within three months. Mesa on October 17 began placing private security personnel on its airplanes based in Albuquerque, N.M.
Bombardier recently opened its Tucson, Ariz. Part 145 repair station for CRJ and Q-series aircraft. Bombardier Regional Aircraft Services Tucson is modeled after Bombardier’s other heavy-maintenance facility, the West Virginia Air Center (WVAC) in Bridgeport, W. Va. The 131,000-sq-ft facility, designed to support U.S.-based regional airline operators, can handle as many as 10 regional aircraft at a time.
The Harbin-Embraer Aircraft joint manufacturing venture on September 28 delivered the first of 100 airplanes to its biggest Chinese customer, Hainan Airlines Group (HNA) subsidiary Grand China Express.
Air Canada has converted to firm status a former tentative commitment for 15 new Bombardier CRJ700 Series 705s and 15 CRJ200s. The airline plans to start taking deliveries of CRJ200s this year, followed by the CRJ705s next year, the exact dates depending on the timing of its emergence from bankruptcy. The airline also holds a conditional order for 15 CRJ200s and options on another 45 airplanes.
Mesa Air Group founder Larry Risley, 59, died of colorectal cancer on September 22 in Austin, Texas. A native of Abilene, Texas, Risley founded the airline in 1982 from the assets of a single-airplane charter service he started two years earlier. By the time he retired in 1998, Inc.