AMR Eagle has divided its long-awaited order for regional jets between Embraer and Bombardier, although the Brazilian manufacturer has won the key competition to supply 50-seaters.

AMR Eagle will take delivery of the first of 42 firmly ordered EMB-145LRs, powered by the Allison AE3007A1 engine, in February 1998, and expects service-entry to follow by May.

The entire contract, which includes 25 options, is valued at around $1 billion, with the firmly ordered component worth $700 million. The 42 aircraft will be delivered by the end of 1999.

AMR Eagle's vice-president of planning Peter Pappas says that the first EMB-145s will be operated from AMR Eagle's Chicago hub, with operations at its Dallas-Fort Worth base following soon afterwards. "The aircraft will used mainly to cater for growth, typically operating sectors of around 500-600nm (900-1,100km)," he says. Significantly, the new LR version selected by AMR Eagle is able to fly distances of up to 3,000km.

AMR Eagle's decision to also reward Bombardier has lead to the regional airline selecting the 70-seat Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) Series 700, committing to 25 firm orders, plus 25 options for delivery from early 2001. Seventeen aircraft will be delivered in 2001, and the remaining eight in 2003. Eight options are due in 2002, and the remainder through to 2004.

The C$1.9 billion ($1.4 billion) order, which is subject to the completion of negotiations, "-will be finalised in the coming weeks", says Pierre Lortie, president of Bombardier Regional Aircraft.

The selection of the Embraer 50-seater followed a "fierce competition" says Pappas, which involved a "fly -off" competition between the CRJ and the EMB-145 in Dallas in April. The contest examined "many variables" says Papas, and although Bombardier already offers 50- and 70-seat regional jets, the commonality benefits did not outweigh other issues. "We had a little bit of disagreement with Bombardier about the level of commonality," he says. The CRJ-700 was selected over the proposed 70-seat EMB-170 because it is not certain whether Embraer will proceed with the project.

Robert Brown, president of Bombardier Aerospace, says that "the commercial terms" for the 50-seater order "-were not acceptable to us - specifically on pricing". He adds that he believes it will be difficult for "the competition" (ie Embraer) to continue with its pricing policy on a competitive basis.

Brown says that the CRJ-700 order will not be subject to any "walkaway" clauses, while Embraer declines to comment.

Pappas says that the EMB-145s and CRJ-700s "-will be flown by AMR Eagle pilots", and not those of American Airlines. The AMR regional-jet scope clause limits the number which can be operated by AMR Eagle to 67 aircraft up to the year 2001.

Source: Flight International