Fresh from Asian Aerospace in Singapore, Bombardier brought its CRJ900 tour to Europe. Aerospace journalists from the UK and France gathered at London Stansted before experiencing the CRJ900 in action as we jetted over the Irish Sea to Belfast.
It didn't take us hard-bitten journalists long to adjust to the luxury of business class, the wine, canap駸 and 32.5"-equivalent seat pitch leg-room and before we knew it, we were touching down at Belfast City airport as plane-spotters on the ground jostled to get the best shot. It's not every day the CRJ900 comes to town.
As the team from Bombardier were keen to impart at the press briefing the next day, the CRJ900's credentials are impressive. Seating between 86 and 90 passengers, it has the lowest operating costs in its class and its seat-mile costs are comparable with new-generation narrowbodies.
And despite a market trend that has dipped in the past two years, Bombardier is bullish about the future of the regional jet market. "We are confident that when the market comes back, it will come back in a big way," said Trung Ngo, vice-president marketing and communications.
A question and answer session brought a flurry of questions about Bombardier's plans for the CSeries, which were shelved just over a month ago. Alec McRitchie, director of public affairs for Europe, said that although it was "a disappointment", he hoped the CSeries would be launched later.
After a tour of the Shorts facility, we were ushered back onto the aircraft for the quick flight back to Stansted. For most it was then a quick journey home, but for the Bombardier team, the tour continued on to Central Europe on its one-month journey demonstrating the aircraft to a host of potential customers. The tour's exact route wasn't a matter for discussion.