Russian airframer Irkut has begun exploratory talks with Bombardier over plans to cooperate in providing customer support for its planned MC-21 narrowbody airliner. Irkut wants to tap the Canadian group’s expertise in setting up customer support infrastructure.
Bombardier Dash 8
GA Telesis has acquired an inventory of new, overhauled, serviceable rotable and expendable material for the Bombardier Q400. The material is available for immediate purchase. All of the components are warehoused at the company’s distribution center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. GA Telesis can also support spare engine needs of Q400 operators.
India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has issued a request for proposal for nine medium-range maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft for the Indian Navy, plus 38 anti-ship missiles. The Navy has taken delivery of the first of eight Boeing P-8I Poseidon jets, and Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Although the new RFP seems to encourage smaller, lower-cost airframes and weapons, its terms may limit the bids.
Bombardier Aerospace has signed a letter of intent to authorize Ethiopian Airlines of Addis Ababa to perform line and heavy maintenance on Q400 turboprops, the manufacturer announced last month. The parties expect the agreement to take effect this month.
Ethiopian Airlines’ overhaul and repair facilities at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa employs an all-Ethiopian workforce of more than 750 licensed technicians and support staff.
Bombardier delivered the first of 20 Q400 turboprops ordered by Calgary-based low-fare carrier WestJet on June 6. Plans called for WestJet’s new regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore, to start flying the airplanes on June 24 on new routes to Fort St. John and Nanaimo, British Columbia. The airline also plans to launch service to Brandon, Manitoba, on September 3, and open several new points in Alberta and Saskatchewan later in the year.
Despite some vacillation by ATR and Bombardier, who are still studying the form their respective 90-seat regional airliners might take, development of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s new turboprop engine continues on a “critical path” to an expected launch next year, according to Richard Dussault, company vice president of marketing.
Struggling Scandinavian flag carrier SAS has signed an agreement to sell its regional subsidiary Widerøe as part of an ongoing restructuring program to achieve financial stability. SAS will sell 80 percent of Widerøe to Norwegian companies Torghatten ASA, Fjord1 AS and Nordland Fylkeskommune. The sales will include seven Bombardier Q400 turboprops that SAS currently leases to the regional carrier. The transaction must be approved by Norwegian authorities, and is expected to close in September.
Bombardier is expanding maintenance capacity at its Tucson, Ariz., service center for its Q400 and Q400 NextGen twin turboprops. The airframer has added three additional lines of maintenance staff in southwestern U.S. facility, supplementing capacity already available to regional airline customers in Bridgeport, W.Va., and Macon, Ga.
Bombardier Aerospace announced last month that Nordic Aviation Capital of Billund, Denmark, has signed a firm purchase agreement to acquire four Q400 turboprops. Bombardier places the value of the contact, based on list prices, at $134.77 million.
Despite the difficulty ATR has encountered in penetrating the U.S. turboprop market, company CEO Filippo Bagnato continues to express optimism that the Franco-Italian partnership will experience a resurgence in what perhaps represents its final frontier of a sort. Now controlling some 60 percent of the market for 50- to 90-seat airplanes based on unit sales backlogs, the last Western maker of 50-seat-category turboprops sees itself as a potential lifeline for small U.S. cities and communities that can no longer support the services of regional jets of any size.