An item at the recent Paris airshow that caught some attention was the emergence of the former Dornier 328 as the TRJ328. Take a look at our video of the presentation made by Sierra Nevada about the TRJ328 and their moving the line to Ankara, Turkey.
Even with an order of 50 aircraft from the Turkish state and the likelihood the state will lean on local airlines to buy more, how big is this market?
- “There’s a big gap in the jet market and there’s nothing to fill it,” ERA Director General Simon McNamara said in an interview. “There won’t be the same numbers as for a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320, but it’s stable demand.”
- There are about 5,000 small regional aircraft still flying, according to Dave Jackson, managing director of the 328 program at Sierra Nevada, who said the company is seeking about 500 orders split between the baseline 32-seat 328 and a possible all-new 50-60 seat variant dubbed the 628.
From data we have access to, the global regional jet fleet is 4,371. But that number needs to be distilled to get to the key information. The chart below lists the extent of the regional jet market in the three major seat categories. Yes the market is growing, but not in the 50 seat and below segment.
Breaking down the data further for the 50 seat and below segment we get the following chart. Not only is the segment looking smaller for each of the past few years, the segment the TRJ is looking at is tiny.
TRJ plans to offer the 328 as both jet and turboprop. If we add to this the 705 turboprops with up to 34 seats, the combined fleet is 795 as of the end of 1Q15. Fortunately the turboprop fleet TRJ is focused on averages 22 years old. So there is indeed an opportunity for replacement.
So what is the extent of the market for a 30-seat regional aircraft in either jet or turboprop configuration? We are estimate about 1,000 for passenger and combi service.
If the aviation sectors in under-served markets (i.e. Africa) pick up, this would help a lot as smaller aircraft are good as entry level equipment. TRJ could see even more business if they add special mission aircraft to their offering. Given Sierra Nevada’s background, and probable Turkish interest, this is almost certainly on the cards.