Farnborough Air Show

Bombardier Shows Off “Lighter, Smarter” CRJ

 - July 17, 2014, 6:45 AM

Bombardier Aerospace continues to breathe new life into its NextGen CRJ series aircraft, underscored here at the Farnborough Airshow by the CRJ900 on static display, ready for delivery to American Airlines-the fourth of 30 ordered by the US carrier last year. Sylvain Leclerc, v-p and general manager, CRJ Commercial Aircraft, said the “new and improved interior configuration will enhance the passenger experience,” while aerodynamic clean-ups and weight saving efforts have boosted the aircraft’s operational efficiency.

The reconfigured 76-seat, three-class cabin has a dozen seats in business class, 36 in premium economy, and 28 economy seats, all with increased room between rows (39 inches, 35 inches and 31 inches respectively) over the previous NextGen CRJ900s. In-seat power supply and Wi-Fi are now options, making Bombardier the only OEM to offer factory installed Wi-Fi, Leclerc said. The new LED lighting is standard.

The “enhanced” NextGen CRJs also offer a 5.5-percent improvement in fuel efficiency over older NextGens, “and with the plan we have, we’re going to go up to double digits [in fuel efficiency improvements] by 2020,” said Leclerc.

Outside, the new conical nozzle at the trailing edge of the engine decreases drag, and though noise level increases slightly as a result, the CRJ has reduced its noise footprint so far below limitations that the increased efficiency was worth the added decibels, Leclerc explained. “We have a lot of ideas on the table and we keep improving on a yearly basis.”

Among the ideas: A carbon braking system introduced on the CRJ1000 has proved itself in three years of service, and the company is considering putting it on the CRJ900, providing 400 pounds of weight saving.

Bombardier (Chalet C1-3) is also “leveraging a lot of good ideas from the CSeries program and applying it to the CRJ,” such as the plan to reduce the gap between the vertical tail fin and rudder, which will help improve performance and efficiency. Lighter carpeting, seats, and service carts are also planned.

Captain Don McNicoll, chief pilot CRJ and the commercial division’s chief safety pilot, who flew the CRJ here with Captain Jean Guy Blondin, senior pilot advisor for the CRJ program, noted that planned and prototyped weight reduction modifications are subjected to an operational safety assessment, and the aircraft’s design limits remain unchanged. “We’re not making it weaker,” Capt. McNicoll said of the enhanced NextGen CRJ. “We’re making it lighter and smarter.”