Bombardier's regional aircraft focus seems poised to shift more toward Asia and other developing markets in the coming years, in acknowledgement of aviation's advancements in those regions and the relative maturity of the North American market.
The manufacturer also expects to continue making incremental improvements to its regional aircraft products – which include CRJs and Q400s – rather than immediately embarking on larger development projects, says Bombardier president of commercial aircraft Fred Cromer.
"The products will continue to evolve. I don't think it's going to be a step change; it's more incremental," Cromer tells FlightGlobal. He notes Bombardier is now selling CRJs with its new Atmosphere cabin, which has larger overhead bins and a cabin designed to feel more spacious.
Cromer's was speaking on the eve of the Farnborough air show and just weeks after Bombardier returned to its regional aircraft roots after handing majority ownership of CSeries – now called the A220 – to Airbus.
With the Airbus deal complete, Bombardier has put its full weight back behind the regional aircraft that made the company famous. And Cromer sees developing markets like China as target-rich.
"There's a real need to evolve aviation in China… which is going to create opportunity for regional aircraft," Cromer says. Bombardier expects carriers in China will jump on the regional aircraft bandwagon much as North American airlines did decades ago.
He notes China has instituted polices designed to promote regional commercial aviation. Carriers elsewhere in Asia, and in Africa and India, will also drive much of the predicted demand, he adds, noting Bombardier recently sold aircraft to carriers like Ethiopian Airlines, SpiceJet and Philippines Airlines.
"Over the next five or 10 years, you will see… these airlines and these regions develop more feed into the infrastructure that they are building. To us that's a big opportunity," says Cromer.
Airlines in China will need 900 aircraft with 60-100 seats in the next 20 years, while carriers elsewhere in Asia and Oceania will need another 900 such aircraft, according to Bombardier's most-recent fleet forecast.
Bombardier pegs worldwide, 20-year demand for 60- to 100-seat aircraft at 5,750 units.