Regional airframers enjoy healthier start to 2010

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Regional airframers have enjoyed a much healthier start to 2010, with sales in the first six months almost double of those in the corresponding period a year ago.

However, their combined output has declined by a quarter as a result of a significant fall in jet production.

Bombardier is the top seller in the first six months (the Canadian airframer reports for its fiscal year that ended on 31 July), with 70 net orders. The bulk of these were for its largest airliner, the in-development 130-seat CSeries CS300, which landed an order from Republic Airways for 40 aircraft.

Sales of its CRJ family were slow, however, with just eight net orders, while the Q400 turboprop significantly bolstered Bombardier's tally with 22 net sales.

Embraer's 2010 start was better than its 2009 beginning, when cancellations drove its net order tally into deficit (-19). This year it achieved 17 net orders, all for the E-Jet family.

western regional aircraft manufacturers first half 2010 table

ATR had a strong first half, securing 42 net orders, which was more than double the total in the same period last year. All the orders were for the larger ATR 72 variant, with around three-quarters of sales for the new -600 version.

Overall, regional airliner deliveries have fallen from 147 in the first half of 2009 to 110 during this year. While turboprop output was flat at 50 units, regional jet shipments have dropped by almost 40% from 97 to 60.

Bombardier has suffered the biggest fall in jet production, with CRJ output dropping from 30 units to 10. Embraer's deliveries fell by 17 units to 50. In Montreal, the general decline in near-term regional jet demand has been compounded by delays to Bombardier's new 100-seat CRJ1000 variant, which should have been shipping by now and bolstering its delivery total.

Turboprop output is evenly matched, with ATR delivering 26 aircraft and Bombardier 24.

With net orders outstripping deliveries this year, the regional airliner backlog has risen since the end of 2009 from 634 units to 653.

The growing success of the CSeries, combined with continuing sales of the Q400, has elevated Bombardier to the overall backlog market leader, with a 41% share. However, the Canadian company is not in front in either sector, with Embraer leading in the jet category and ATR in the turboprop arena.

The Brazilian airframer, which had been the established dominant regional player by backlog, retains a one-third share overall, but will be concerned about the declining fortunes of its smaller E-Jet variants, with the backlog of the E-175 having slipped into single figures and the E-170 being only slightly higher.