The Mitsubishi Regional Jet project officially entered its manufacturing phase today, as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Mitsubishi Aircraft held a ceremony in Nagoya, Japan, to mark the start of production of the first MRJ part. During the event, MHI technicians began cutting aluminum for a frame component associated with the airplane’s horizontal stabilizer.
News and issues relating specifically to regional airlines, including aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training; and coverage of annual conventions of the U.S. Regional Airline Association (RAA) and European Regions Airline Association (ERA).
Qantas removed from service five of the 21 Bombardier Q400s operated by regional affiliate QantasLink in late August after the airline found a defect in what it described as a main landing-gear component. Qantas said it decided to inspect the airplanes and ultimately remove them from service after consultation with fellow Q400 operator Flybe and Bombardier.
Seattle-based Horizon Air will end all its so-called “branded” flying under a plan to move to a 100-percent capacity purchase agreement (CPA) model starting January 1. As a result, Alaska Air Group’s other subsidiary, Alaska Airlines, will assume complete responsibility for managing Horizon’s route network, along with all the risk associated with marketing and selling seats on the airline’s fleet of Bombardier Q400 turboprops and CRJ700s.
Delta Air Lines has directed regional subsidiary Comair to shed more than half of its Bombardier CRJs over the next two years, according to a September 1 memo to employees from Comair president John Bendoraitis. The Cincinnati-based regional airline plans to cut 49 fifty-seat CRJs from next year through 2012, leaving it with 16 fifty-seat CRJ200s, 15 seventy-seat CRJ700s and 13 seventy-six-seat CRJ900s.
Yet another Bombardier CRJ landed with one side of its main landing gear retracted yesterday. The SkyWest CRJ200, operating in partnership with AirTran as Flight 3074 from Omaha, Neb., made an emergency landing at Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport at about 5:10 p.m. local time with only its right main and nose gear extended. All 36 passengers and three crewmembers deplaned safely through the main cabin door.
In its latest world commercial helicopter market report, research firm Frost & Sullivan expects the segment to expand from 24,625 helicopters in 2009 to 36,946 in 2015.
Following the recent worldwide financial crisis and recession, regional airline services in Europe are set to change as operators move to introduce bigger equipment. Air Nostrum chief executive Carlos Bertomeu, for one, predicts that his carrier’s recent strategy to increase average capacity–and thereby reduce unit costs–will be copied elsewhere in the industry.
One of the primary responsibilities of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) is to do “everything possible to ensure that things do not get worse [for members] before they become better.” So said ERA policy and regulatory-affairs deputy director-general Simon McNamara at the group’s April 2010 conference in Edinburgh after two years of “most challenging trading conditions” had left European regionals flying through metaphorical clouds
Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean Airlines signed a firm order in late September covering nine ATR 72-600s worth some $200 million at list prices. To come configured in a 68-seat layout starting in late 2011, the airplanes will replace five de Havilland Dash 8-300s and allow Caribbean Airlines to add frequencies between Trinidad and Tobago and surrounding destinations.
The consolidation of the regional airline industry continued unabated last month, as St. George, Utah-based SkyWest revealed plans to acquire Houston-based ExpressJet. The $133 million transaction will involve a direct purchase by SkyWest's Atlanta-based subsidiary, Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA), of all of ExpressJet's common shares for $6.75 each in cash.