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Commercial Aviation Analysts


We believe that a mix of high speed turboprops and jets in the 70-90 seat sector are the most likely 50-seat regional jet replacements, but we see a resurgence of turboprops taking a larger market share in today’s high fuel cost environment.  Today’s best selling turboprops are in the 70-seat range, and both major manufacturers are examining 90 seat turboprops to support regional markets in the future. Continue reading

The RAA provides great data on the US regional airline industry.  We took a look at the fleet breakdown and created this chart.

It is amazing that the 50-seat regional jet accounts for 59% of operations.  Note that turboprops account for only 15%.  The balance comes from the newer, larger regional jets.

Given the price of fuel and changing economics for regional airlines, we expect this chart to see radical change over the next five years. We are not alone in this view.

Kingfisher Airlines is sinking fast. Consider:

  • ATR turbo-prop orders have been canceled, all 38 of them;
  • IATA has booted the airline out of its various services for non-payment and sinking financial condition;
  • Staff isn’t being paid and as a result, pilots aren’t showing up and flights are being canceled;
  • The Indian government has frozen accounts for non-payment of taxes; and
  • Aircraft are being repossessed by lessors.

As our affiliate Leeham Co wrote a while back, ATR is one of the big losers. Eventually Airbus will take a hit as well.

Bombardier announced today that Warsaw-base Eurolot ordered eight Q400s plus 12 options.  Based on list price for the Q400 the firm order contract is valued at $246 million. The contract value would increase to $625 million when all 12 options are converted to firm orders.

The news caps a good week for Bombardier. They are enmeshed in a tough battle for a crucial turboprop order (with ATR) from WestJet. Both OEMs are doing custom painted airplanes for the competition in Calgary.  There is no picture of the custom painted ATR yet. There is a good summary of the state of the competition here.

WestJet is doing the right thing in terms of having the two fight for the order. ATR wants to win the deal because a Canadian win for them would be a blow to Bombardier. On the other hand, Bombardier needs to win this deal just as… Continue reading

Much of the industry attention is focused on airplanes over 150 seats – after all that is where the big orders are. But data on the regional market – less than 100 seats – shows interesting patterns. Rather than focus on total range, take a look at how airliners really get used.  Using the US DoT T-100 data (2011 thru August) we see the following.

Among the turboprops the Embraer Brasilia did the longest flights and the segment clearly tops out at 200 miles.  SkyWest accounted for 93% the E120 data and does much of this flying in the western part of the US where segments tend to be longer.  The DHC8 flights are influenced by Piedmont (US Airways) accounting for 59%. These flights are typically feeder traffic into Philadelphia and as one would expect in the northeast, short routes.

The data suggests that OEMs should focus on this market… Continue reading

ATR has delivered its first new model ATR-72-600 to Royal Air Maroc.  The new aircraft are more efficient that prior models, and compete with the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 in the turboprop sector.

Perhaps the biggest change for ATR is the interior.  The new Armonia cabin, developed by the Italian design firm Giugiaro Design, provides a striking contrast to the somewhat utilitarian interiors in the earlier ATR-72s that I’ve flown.  With larger bins, and more modern seats, the ATR models have now moved from the 1980s into the 21st century, even to center and seat-back entertainment systems, bringing them in line with the jets and fleet standards for brand commonality.

Turboprops have always suffered from NVH – Noise, vibration and harshness.  But those drawbacks have largely been mitigated with newer designs, which utilizes noise cancellation technology and anti-vibration technologies to reduce vibrations cause by air from the propeller striking against the… Continue reading

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