Bombardier’s 90-passenger Q400 aircraft configuration has received certification from Transport Canada, making it the first commercial turboprop in production to reach that capacity, the company announced Wednesday. Engineers managed to increase the Q400’s capacity from 78 to 90 seats with some relatively minor modifications to the positioning of the rear bulkhead and replacement of the starboard side baggage door with a passenger door. The company says the increase results in a 15-percent reduction in operating cost, a major draw for low-fare airlines such as India’s SpiceJet.
Launch customer SpiceJet signed an LOI covering 50 of the turboprops in an 86-seat layout during the 2017 Paris Air Show. In September that year it signed a firm order for 25 and reserved purchase rights on another 25 and announced it would instead take the airplanes in the 90-seat configuration Bombardier first revealed during the 2016 Singapore Air Show. The high-density, all-economy configuration allows for a 28-inch seat pitch. Spicejet now flies 23 Q400s in its standard 78-seat layout and expects to take its first 90-seater later this year.
“With increasing growth in the number of passengers per departure in the turboprop market, we are excited to offer our customers a higher-capacity configuration and 15 percent lower cost per seat compared to the previous standard Q400, leading to more profitability potential for airlines,” said Q Series program head Todd Young. “This milestone certification showcases, once again, the unique versatility of the Q400 turboprop and our continued commitment to the evolution of the program.”
The 90-seat configuration marks the latest step in Bombardier’s efforts to improve the Q400’s economics. Other improvements under development include a 2,000-pound increase in payload capacity and an escalation of the A-Check and C-Check intervals from 600/6,000 to 800/8,000 flight hours.