Embraer expected to win Brazilian certification of its new 78- to 86-seat 175 soon after AIN went to press last month, marking the official introduction of the second aircraft of Embraer’s four-member series of jets ranging from 70 to 108 seats in capacity.
Régional Compagnie Aérienne Européenne
An-148–The first Ukrainian airplane built with CAD-CAM technology continues to defy the odds, and not only in a technical sense. The only aircraft built in the former Soviet Union without direct public funding, the 70-seat An-148 flew for the first time on December 17 in the midst of the Orange Revolution, raising a symbol of stability in a country rocked by political unrest.
Industry developments have conspired to depress the 50-seat jet market to its weakest position since the late 1990s. Backlogs have shrunk to their lowest levels in years, and the latest deal struck by Independence Air to return another 24 CRJs to their lessors hasn’t helped matters.
Embraer delivered two Legacy business jets in the first quarter compared with none in the same period last year, in addition to 28 regional jets, according to the Brazilian airframer. The company delivered 13 Legacys last year and in 2003. Embraer is expecting to deliver a total of 145 corporate and regional jets this year.
Riding the wave created by the success of its 50-seat regional jet program (now on the wane as the regional airlines evolve toward larger aircraft), Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has set its sights on becoming a major player in the business aviation market to bolster its move into building larger regional airliners (the 170 and 190 lines).
Twilight has fallen unceremoniously on the heyday of the 50-seat regional jet, and Bombardier’s October 28 announcement that it would suspend production of the CRJ200 only underscored that fact. Of course, the recent bankruptcies of Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Independence Air haven’t helped, but signs of a meltdown came long before any CRJ operators stopped deliveries or started grounding airplanes.
Antonov: An-148–The only aircraft program ever launched in the former Soviet Union without direct public funding continues its march toward CIS AP-25 certification, scheduled for next April.
A chill in the air and an unseasonably hard rain did little to dampen the enthusiasm last month in São José dos Campos, Brazil, as U.S. carrier JetBlue accepted delivery of Embraer’s first 190 twinjet.
The ceremonies in the Embraer hangar opened with an amateur musical video performance by members of the Embraer team responsible for designing and building the 100-passenger airliner.
Never a hotbed of activity for the West’s two regional jet makers, the Middle East market for RJs has long seemed as barren as the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter. But like the oil riches that lie beneath the desert sands, the need for smaller, more efficient airplanes has finally surfaced with a little coaxing, as Embraer proved in late April.
Two more established OEMs–Embraer and Raytheon Aircraft–confirmed they are looking at introducing aircraft into the light or very light jet market. But they have yet to commit to firm projects as Cessna has with the Citation Mustang.