Bombardier aims to enhance CRJ’s secondhand appeal

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Canadian manufacturer looks to combat fall in demand for new-build 50-seat models

Bombardier is examining potential new markets for secondhand CRJ100/200s in an effort to prop up demand for used aircraft.

Rising fuel prices have seen a drop off in demand for the 50-seat CRJ models, as airlines move up to the larger 70- to 90-seat models or consider turboprop-powered alternatives. This has seen the backlog for new 50-seat CRJs drop to a record low of less than 60 aircraft.

“Market demand appears to be satisfied for new 50-seat jets,” says Barry MacKinnon, Bombardier vice-president marketing and airline analysis regional aircraft. “Our main sales activity is with the CRJ700 and CRJ900 and there are more order announcements due in the coming weeks for both programmes.”

With the fleet of 15- to 20-year-old CRJ100/200s set to increase rapidly in the next five years, Bombardier has identified future roles for used aircraft. MacKinnon says that he sees “a small but potential market for secondhand passenger CRJs” as corporate shuttles, a sector where the company has already sold a number of new-build CRJ-based aircraft.

Meanwhile, a study is under way into a potential package freighter modification for secondhand aircraft. “We are studying the applicability of the aircraft in this role, and we believe it could work well,” says MacKinnon. He adds that the study is examining whether the modification would require the installation of a cargo door, and estimates that the aircraft would have a payload of around 7t.

MacKinnon emphasises that the market for secondhand passenger CRJs in the type’s primary market, North America, is strong, where used aircraft have been placed quickly with new operators.

MAX KINGSLEY-JONES/TORONTO