April's Jet Report: The Bombardier CRJ-900

London
Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

Bombardier launched the CRJ-900, a 90-seat version of its popular CRJ family at the Farnborough Air Show in 2000.

Bombardier invested C$650m to develop the CRJ-700 from the CRJ-100/200, which features major changes to the wing, empennage and fuselage/cabin. The CRJ-900 is a simple stretch of the CRJ-700 and required another C$200m to develop.

The CRJ-900 is designed to hold 86-90 passengers in a four-abreast configuration with two lavatories and a galley as standard equipment. It can also be configured with optional three-abreast business-class seating. The CRJ-900 is 118 feet, eight inches long with a wing span of 81 feet six inches.

Bombardier developed a new larger winglet and improved aerodynamics for the CRJ-900that give it excellent takeoff, climb, cruise and landing performance as well as reducing the fuel burn.

Bombardier Aerospace offers the CRJ-900 in three versions: the standard CRJ-900, the CRJ-900ER and CRJ-900LR. The standard version has a maximum takeoff weight of 80,500 pounds and a range of 1,350 nautical miles (nm). The Extended Range (ER) variant has a maximum take-off weight of 82,500 pounds and range of 1,593 nm. The Long Range (LR) model has a maximum take-off weight of 84,500 pounds and a range of 1,828 nm.

The CRJ-900 is powered by two General Electric CF34-8C5 turbofan engines that produce 14,510 pounds (63.2 kN) of take-off thrust. These same engines also power the CRJ-700 and CRJ-705, allowing for greater commonality.

Market

In its 2009-28 forecast, Bombardier anticipates 1,000 retirements over the next 20 years in the 60/99-seat regional aircraft market as well as 5,800 deliveries. Today's fleet totals 2,100 aircraft.

"The 60 to 99-seat segment will grow strongly during the forecast period. In mature markets, this growth will be accelerated by traffic demand necessitating larger turboprops and regional jets. In markets such as Asia/Pacific, the absence of scope

clauses combined with the range of the larger regional aircraft will also increase demand," it says.

"Regional airlines' desire to increase capacity and reduce per-seat costs has created strong demand for 60 to 99-seat aircraft. In the near-term these large regional aircraft are in high demand causing the average aircraft size to shift upward."

Bombardier brands its CRJ-900 as the lowest cost regional jet. The CRJ-900 model has 97% commonality with the CRJ-700. For existing CRJ operators, like Mesa, the CRJ-900 offers additional passenger capacity while providing a high degree of operational compatibility and fleet flexibility, as well as "same type" rating for commonality in crewing, maintenance, spare parts and customer support. These factors were important in some campaigns. Bombardier says lower yields, route transfer from mainline carrier, higher fuel prices and a relaxation of the scope clauses are the main driver behind the trend towards larger aircraft.

Even without commonality, the manufacturer says the CRJ-900 has a very low seat-mile cost that allows it to compete effectively in Low Cost Carrier (LCC) markets, providing a new tool for the airlines to use to compete effectively. In a North American 500 nautical miles environment, Bombardier says the 90-seat aircraft has a 14% more efficient cost available seat mile (CASM) than the CRJ-700 and 25% more efficient per seat than the CRJ-200 model. Against 135-passenger narrowbody, Bombardier says the CRJ-900 is 22% more efficient in terms of CASM.

As of 31 January 2010, Bombardier had recorded firm orders for 248 CRJ-900and CRJ-900NextGen aircraft and delivered a total of 230 aircraft.

Since the beginning of the year, three new aircraft have been handed over to Eurowings while SAS has added one aircraft. According to Flightglobal's ACAS database, deliveries this year are as follow: Eurowings for the final three aircraft, Tatarstan for the final four, Estonian for three aircraft and the Iraqi government for four aircraft. Adria Airways has traded one CRJ-1000 model for one CRJ-900 and is expected to take delivery in August.

ACAS database says that nine aircraft are currently parked or in transition.

Europe accounts for approximately 29% of the CRJ-900 operator base with 66 aircraft.

The North American fleet totals 142 aircraft or 61.5% of the total fleet. A total of 16 aircraft are operated in the Middle Eats and Africa while in South America there are seven aircraft.

New orders have been slow over the past two years but Bombardier recently consolidated its presence in South America by securing one new customer and placing more aircraft with an existing customer.

Earlier this month, Pluna Líneas Aéreas Uruguayas committed for the type by announcing a firm order for three CRJ900 NextGen regional jets and optioned an additional six aircraft. All firm aircraft are scheduled for delivery this year while the options cover delivery slots in 2011. "Bombardier's CRJ900 NextGen airliner has given us the ability to upgrade our passenger service and develop new markets," said Pluna's CEO Matias Campiani. "It has allowed us to offer more frequent service with its low operating economics, exceptional passenger comfort and proven high reliability. Our three new aircraft will enable us to continue expanding our route network."

Pluna currently owns eight CRJ900s but one of these aircraft is subleased to Argentinean sister carrier AeroVIP.

Bombardier has also secured another customer for the type in the region with Argentina's Andes Líneas Aéreas, which leased two previously owned aircraft to expand its fleet and reach out to new markets for both its scheduled and charter services. "The Bombardier CRJ900 jetliner will give us an aircraft for routes on which our larger aircraft can at times be uneconomical to operate," said Andes Líneas Aéreas President Hector Bonafert.

Collateral Verifications' VP - Commercial Aviation Services Gueric Dechavanne expect more orders for the type as passenger demand returns and the global economy continues to recover.

Transactions

The market for the CRJ-900 has been stable until now. Hardly any aircraft had moved but two fleets with AtlasJet and Myair.com, albeit not in large quantities, have recently become available. The AtlasJet Airlines CRJ-900 fleet has now been placed: two with Andes Líneas Aéreas while French carrier Brit Air has taken one aircraft. Brit Air also took delivery last month of an ex-Voyageur Airways aircraft.

Alitalia - Compagnia Aerea Italiana announced plans last November to purchase four more regional aircraft with 90 seats, aimed at taking advantage of new opportunities for growth in territorial traffic. CAO understands that the Italian carrier evaluated the CRJ-900 model but as of today the plan has yet to materialise.

The Myair.com four-aircraft fleet has now been contracted to Skywest Airlines on the long-term basis.

Dechavanne says there have not been very many, if any, used aircraft being placed on the market for sale which has helped this aircraft to a certain extent. "Even though orders have been very light in the last 12 months, the aircraft continues to be desirable for operators. We expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future with the expectation that values will further stabilize in the next 6-12 months."

"SAS and Libyan Airlines are among the airlines steadily increasing their CRJ-900 fleets this year," comments IBA's senior analyst Alice Gondry.

"Some oversupply is lively given the recent suspension of myair.com, however this should be quite rapidly quashed as the CRJ-900 has emerged as one of the more popular and in demand aircraft types during this period," she adds.

The market for the CRJ-900 model is a leasing market but lease rentals are slightly down despite limited availability.

Monthly lease rates are now in the region of $200,000 for new aircraft while long term agreements will fetch lease rates in the $180,000 range.

Dechavanne says lease rentals remaining fairly stable with only a slight drop of about 3% over the past 12 months. In contrast values for the type have dropped by about 20%.

Gondry says a 2004-vintage aircraft leases between $132,000 & $151,000 a month. Collateral Verifications' Gueric Dechavanne estimates the lease at $190,000 a month.

A 2006-vintage aircraft would lease between $148,000 and $170,000 a month for IBA and $210,000 for Collateral Verifications.

A two-year old aircraft has estimated leases at $230,000 for Collateral Verifications and between $164,000 and $190,000 for IBA.

Current market values are in the $16 million range for appraisers. IBA says a six-year old aircraft has a $16.44 million CMV (against a $17.31 million base value), Collateral Verifications estimates the aircraft at $16.32 million while MBA is the lowest at $16.07 million.

A four-year old aircraft has a $20.33 million CMV for Collateral Verifications, $19.01 million for MBA while IBA values the aircraft at $18.63 million.

A 2008-vintage is valued at $22.46 million for MBA, $21.61 million for IBA while Collateral Verifications values the aircraft at $22.64 million.

Both IBA and Collateral Verifications value a new delivery in the $25.6 million range with Collateral Verifications applying a 1% lease factor while IBA is more in the 0.8% lease factor on average. MBA values a new aircraft at $26.50 million.