When Bombardier and Embraer ended mass production of their respective 50-seat jets by 2006, it appeared that the regional airline industry’s love affair with the little RJs had run its course. With most major airline scope clauses relaxed to allow 70-and even 76-seat jets in their regional partners’ fleets, demand for the less cost-effective 50-seaters had essentially evaporated.
In some respects Russia’s development has followed a pattern familiar to Westerners, but that is not true for its business aviation industry. While Russian billionaires show off their huge yachts in the most expensive and trendy places in the world, buy A380s for personal use, haunt French ski resorts and buy islands off Dubai, some of the nation’s laws prevent wealthy individuals from reaping the benefits of business aircraft.
Along with the commercial and networking benefits the Regional Airline Association Convention offers, the annual event gives showgoers a chance to discuss the state of the industry and its prospects for the future.
For years major airline executives have recognized their regional affiliates’ potential to take a more active role in serving markets that until recently occupied the exclusive domain of mainline operations. But limited labor resources and influential pilot unions curbed efforts to penetrate the artificial barrier between mainline and regional flying.
Atlantic Southeast Airlines accepted its first Bombardier CRJ700 during ceremonies that marked not only the Atlanta-based airline’s baptism as a 70-seat jet operator but the delivery of the Canadian manufacturer’s 600th CRJ–a 40-seat version that entered revenue service with ASA on January 31.
Heartened by a recent WTO ruling against Canada for its support of Bombardier CRJ sales, Brazil’s Embraer has now turned its attention to its European competition, accusing the German government of illegally subsidizing the development of Fairchild Dornier’s 728 and 928 programs.
Lynnwood, Wash.-based Eldec Corp. is gauging interest among bizav operators in its new flap skew detection system developed for the Canadair Regional Jet. Used to monitor aircraft flap actuation systems and provide control output before a flap skew condition arises, the system has proven more reliable than RVDTs (rotary variable displacement tranducers) and resolvers, claims Eldec.
With the backlog for new business jets extending years into the future in some cases, and with used large-cabin aircraft prices soaring, several enterprises are offering an expedient alternative through executive conversions of Canadair CRJ200 regional jets. The 50-seat (in its commercial configuration) jetliner was first introduced in 1992 as a replacement for regional turboprops.
BAE Systems may have to build another 14 of its Avro RJX regional jets, despite announcing its intention to scrap the program in late November. The UK manufacturer is now seeking to renegotiate contracts with launch customers British European Airways (BEA) and Druk Air of Bhutan. The British operator placed an order for 12 RJXs and options for another eight, and Druk Air holds a firm order for two.
American Eagle last month announced plans to launch regional jet service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) beginning next month, with service to Albuquerque, N.M., Phoenix and Oakland, Calif. A long-time turboprop operator at LAX, American Eagle plans to provide the service with new 44-seat Embraer ERJ-140s.