Fred Cromer, President of Bombardier Regional Aircraft and Patrick Baudis, Vice President of Marketing provided a briefing on the regional market and product news about the CRJ and Q400 at the Regional Airline Association on September 24th.
Fred set the stage by focusing on Bombardier’s market leadership in North America. The company serves more than 450 airports, 1,700 routes, and 2.5 million flights while carrying 115 million passengers annually, as shown in the slide below:
Bombardier states that it is present at 40% more airports, has 25% more routes, operated 35% more flights, and carried 25 more passengers than Embraer in the North American market. In North America, in terms of the number of single-aisle aircraft in operation, Bombardier has a strong market position.
With more than 1,250 aircraft in service in North America, Bombardier’s presence is currently close to that of Airbus in the single aisle fleet.
Patrick Baudis, VP of Marketing, spoke about improvements to Bombardier’s aircraft family, including the Q400 and CRJ.
The Q400 has up to 20% lower seat cost, up to 90 seats, more range and hot and high performance, and dispatch reliability over 99.5%. It is now the first 90 seat turboprop, with a new interior designed for low-cost carriers. Last week the first 90 seat version was delivered to SpiceJet in India. Bombardier has obtained 75 recent orders for new turboprops in the international low cost carrier market, as shown below.
Since the Q400 will be moving from Downsview, Bombardier is taking the opportunity to examine potential efficiencies and improvements to the production process, including the potential for using subassemblies produced apart from the final assembly line, but no decisions have yet been made.
The CRJ continues to improve, and offers the lowest operating costs in its class. The CRJ-900 is currently scope clause compliant, offers strong reliability, and the new Atmosphère cabin that improves the passenger experience.
A new maintenance program for the CRJ was also introduced today, increasing the time for A-checks to 800 hours, and C-checks to 8,000 hours. Bombardier estimated that this would save about $300,000 per aircraft and result in 14% fewer maintenance days.
With respect to economics, Bombardier claims it is all about physics, as the CRJ-900 is a lighter aircraft than the competing Embraer E175 or E175-E2. The CRJ is lighter, with a lower operating empty weight of 1,500 pounds, the equivalent of about 7 passengers from the former, and 12,000 pounds, or the equivalent of 53 passengers, for the latter. As a result, Bombardier indicated that the CRJ-900 retains an economic advantage over the forthcoming E175-E2 for missions under 750nm, the vast majority of regional operations.
Bombardier has also announced improvements to the CRJ-900, including the ability to operate at airports with temperatures of ISA+40 degrees celsius. This provides operational advantages, allowing full payload operations at challenging airports under hot and high conditions.
The Atmosphère cabin provides passenger improvements and enables airlines to offer a more seamless service that is similar to their mainline aircraft. The cabin redesign, which included the galley and forward lavatory, now offers the only Passenger with Restricted Movement certified lavatory in a regional aircraft.
A key element of the new interior is larger bins, which enable passengers to stow carry-on bags with them rather than gate checking them to their destination. This enables faster turnarounds for the aircraft and fewer potential missed connections from waiting for bags when irregularities occur.
The Bottom Line
Aircraft programs have long lives. The Boeing 737 is now 51 years old and going strong. The CRJ and Q400 are about half as old, and still have considerable life in front of them. Bombardier’s is now clearly focused on providing continuous improvements to these aircraft to meet the evolving needs of their regional airline customers.