CRJ1000 takes on Embraer 190

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Go-ahead for 100-seat regional jet will have no bearing on plans for 110 to 130-seat CSeries, says Bombardier

Bombardier has plugged the gap at the top end of its regional jet product line with the launch of a stretched, 100-seat CRJ derivative to compete with the larger members of the Embraer 170/190 family. However the arrival of the CRJ1000 - backed by 38 orders - has no impact on the prospects for a go-ahead on the CSeries twinjet, says the airframer.

The 110- to 130-seat CSeries, for which Bombardier is targeting a 2013 service entry, addresses a "very different" market, says Bombardier Aerospace president and chief operating officer Pierre Beaudoin.

The CSeries "is for us to get into mainline" to replace the large ageing fleet of Boeing MD-80s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9s, whereas the CRJ1000 "is an extension for our regional carriers" driven by customer demand for an economical 100-seat aircraft that "delivers great operating costs".

An update on plans for the CSeries is expected in late March. Separately, Beaudoin says the proposed stretch of the Dash 8 Q400 turboprop is a "project we are continuing to look at".

Although the Canadian manufacturer says the CRJ1000 will attract a "niche" market of regional operators, initially mainly in Europe, it is predicting sales of around 400 of the 100-seaters over the next 20 years. Pilot scope clauses that have largely capped the US regional fleet at 76 seats will prevent the CRJ1000 from making a significant stamp in that country, although over time this could change, says Beaudoin.

Bombardier quotes a list price of around $41 million (in 2007 dollars) for the CRJ1000, which is $5 million more than the 86-seat CRJ900. Although Beaudoin says the CRJ1000 is "very competitive to the [similarly-sized] E-190 from a pricing perspective", the published price is significantly higher than the 2006 list price for the E-190 and E-195, which Embraer puts at $34.5 million and $36.5 million respectively.

However, Bombardier says its "key focus is on the benefits the CRJ1000 will bring to operators and we see that very squarely on the economics. We see a big advantage [there]." It claims the CRJ1000's trip cash operating costs will be 15% lower than the 98- to 106-seat E-190.

Bombardier has 38 firm CRJ1000 orders from three customers, including eight orders and eight options from Air France subsidiary Brit Air and the conversion of 15 CRJ900 orders to the CRJ1000 by Italy's Myair.

A third, undisclosed customer has also ordered 15 CRJ1000s, plus 15 options. One potential candidate is Turkish carrier Atlasjet, which has previously discussed becoming a launch customer for the stretch version of the CRJ900.

The new model - previously dubbed the CRJ900X - will be built at Bombardier's Mirabel plant in Montreal alongside the CRJ700/900. Developed from the CRJ900, it incorporates a 2.95m (9.7ft) stretch to provide room for three more seat rows at 31in (79cm) pitch (see graphic). This increases typical seating to 100, with the maximum accommodation rising to 104.

Key to the CRJ1000's increased capacity is a larger, modified wing "to give us more lift for that size of plane", says Beaudoin. However, the aircraft will maintain 90% fleet commonality with the CRJ900. Bombardier puts development costs for the new model at $300 million, which will be amortised over a 10-year period and financed by the company's cashflow.

As with the existing CRJs, Bombardier is offering basic and extended range (ER) versions of the CRJ1000. The baseline model's maximum take-off weight (MTOW) is 40,800kg (90,000lb) with a maximum range with 100 passengers of 2,760km (1,490nm), while the ER has 800kg greater MTOW, increasing range to 3,130km. The CRJ1000 is scheduled to fly in mid-2008, with certification and first deliveries following in the fourth quarter of 2009.