Along with the commercial and networking benefits the Regional Airline Association Convention offers, the annual event gives showgoers a chance to discuss the state of the industry and its prospects for the future.
The 2008 Farnborough International airshow (held from July 14 through 20) largely confounded widespread predictions that provide clear evidence of an industry heading into a downturn. A fresh wave of airliner orders, mainly from carriers in the fast-growing Middle Eastern and Asian markets, bolstered Airbus and Boeing, along with their phalanx of global suppliers.
China Aviation Industry, the country’s largest state-owned air-plane manufacturer, said at the Paris Air Show last month it plans to design and build a 70- to 90-seat regional jet that will be 10 percent cheaper to buy and to operate than competitive aircraft from Bombardier and Embraer. Officials in Paris declined to give the price of the ARJ21, or when it would enter the market.
While other major manufacturers are struggling to find the right production organization or have spent years changing their minds about what product to launch next, Embraer has been quietly reaping the fruits of a sound management strategy, according to independent financial analysts.
Lynnwood, Wash.-based Eldec Corp. is gauging interest among bizav operators in its new flap skew detection system developed for the Canadair Regional Jet. Used to monitor aircraft flap actuation systems and provide control output before a flap skew condition arises, the system has proven more reliable than RVDTs (rotary variable displacement tranducers) and resolvers, claims Eldec.
With the backlog for new business jets extending years into the future in some cases, and with used large-cabin aircraft prices soaring, several enterprises are offering an expedient alternative through executive conversions of Canadair CRJ200 regional jets. The 50-seat (in its commercial configuration) jetliner was first introduced in 1992 as a replacement for regional turboprops.
BAE Systems may have to build another 14 of its Avro RJX regional jets, despite announcing its intention to scrap the program in late November. The UK manufacturer is now seeking to renegotiate contracts with launch customers British European Airways (BEA) and Druk Air of Bhutan. The British operator placed an order for 12 RJXs and options for another eight, and Druk Air holds a firm order for two.
American Eagle last month announced plans to launch regional jet service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) beginning next month, with service to Albuquerque, N.M., Phoenix and Oakland, Calif. A long-time turboprop operator at LAX, American Eagle plans to provide the service with new 44-seat Embraer ERJ-140s.
Embraer president and CEO Mauricio Botelho reflected on the events of September 11 and their subsequent effect on the world’s aerospace industry with a quote from Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. “We must be tough without losing tenderness,” said Botelho during a lavish dinner affair the evening before the October 29 rollout of the newly branded 70-seat Embraer 170 regional jet.
Brazilian certification of the Embraer Legacy is expected this month, following the prototype’s return from its European tour. Only “minor final details regarding interior systems” remain, according to Sam Hill, vice chairman of Embraer Aircraft Corp. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the Brazilian OEM’s U.S. marketing arm. First delivery to launch customer Swift Aviation is also expected this month.