June 17, 2013
Bombardier is looking at upgrades to both the Q400 regional turboprop and CRJ regional jet as it looks to extend the sales future of both aircraft.
The company expects the Q400 to continue selling in markets that value the aircraft’s larger size, higher speed and greater range compared with the cheaper ATR 72.
“We are looking at larger seat variants, through configuration or minor aircraft changes to widen the gap” between the Q400 and ATR, says Chet Fuller, senior vice president, commercial, for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.
“We are also looking at new technologies, and at getting the cost out. The fuselage already is built in China and there are other industrial strategies we are working on,” he says, adding “Eventually we will have to do something about the cockpit.”
Fuller says the Q400 continues to sell where speed and range are valued, and a bigger aircraft is required. “It is 15% bigger and 40% faster [than the ATR]. Those are not small numbers,” he says. Russia and Africa are seen as big markets, and Bombardier is making a push to re-enter Asia.
Bombardier also is looking at ways to enhance the CRJ. “There are ways to improve the aircraft and we have a set of ideas we are working on,” Fuller says.
There have been reports the company is looking at re-engining the aircraft, but “all new engines are heavy, because of their higher pressure ratios,” he cautions. The General Electric CF34-3 and -8 engines now powering the CRJ “are very light engines, with the best thrust-to-weight in their class.”
Fuller says the CRJ900 in a two-class, 76-seat configuration is now the core product, as a result of scope clause changes in North America. Delta recently ordered CRJ900s, while a major order for the merged American Airlines/US Airways will be decided soon.