The severe financial problems at Fairchild Dornier have left the Envoy 3 and 7 programs in doubt. Ironically (or perhaps intentionally), the 728 regional jet platform for the Envoy 7 was rolled out on March 21, just before the company filed for insolvency on April 2.
While the Russian regional airline system struggles to realize some semblance of Western-style development, the former Soviet satellite state of Ukraine has assumed a leading position in the fleet renovation efforts under way throughout the former Soviet Union.
Ask someone in the Russian aviation community about the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) program and you’ll likely receive a variety of reactions. Except for those enterprises that have a vested interest in the project, responses range from the skeptical to the derisive.
China’s AVIC I announced a trio of orders for 35 ARJ21 regional jets during the Beijing Air Show last month. The largest of the three contracts–for 20 of the 70- to 90-passenger jets–came from Shenzhen Financial Leasing. The others involved a five-aircraft launch order from Shanghai Aviation Group and a 10-unit commitment from Shandong Airlines. AVIC I expects to fly the first prototype in 2006 and start deliveries by the end of 2007.
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.
AvCraft Aviation, the Leesburg, Va.-based parent company of Germany’s Fairchild Dornier, has decided to build the wings for the Dornier 328Jet at its plant outside Munich after signing a deal with EAG Engineering + Design to supply the airfoils’ production tooling. The April 13 announcement came after a standoff with San Antonio’s M7 Aerospace over the value of the only existing tooling ended months of failed negotiation.
Brazil’s Embraer said it will lay off 1,800 workers, reduce deliveries this year from 185 to 160 and lower its forecast delivery rate from 205 to 135 next year as part of a plan to stem losses expected to result from September 11. Although the company said all firm orders remain in effect, it expects a number of customers to defer option conversions until the global economic outlook improves.
ERA named German operator Eurowings regional airline of the year at last month’s general assembly, 12 months after the German regional airline placed second in the competition. Eurowings attributes its success to its fleet mix and route network; an appropriate alliance policy with German flag carrier Lufthansa, which has an option to increase its 25-percent stake in the regional to 49 percent; and an attractive “customer product.”
Transport Canada and Canadian government officials in Moscow have appealed to Russian authorities to issue certification for the Bombardier CRJ900, two of which Kazan-based Tatarstan Airlines had received this summer but may not operate until the 86-seat regional jet gains approval to fly in the CIS. The airline, which placed a firm order for six of the airplanes, has leased the first pair to a carrier in United Arab Emirates in the interim.
Long a concern for regional airlines and the world’s two largest regional jet makers, a growing pessimism about the future of not only US Airways but also Delta and United Airlines carries implications for virtually the entire industry. Last month’s bankruptcy filing by US Airways only intensified the anxiety gnawing at all of the airline’s regional code-share partners.