Mike Martin

Bombardier Aerospace's programme for the planned 100-115 seat regional twinjet, the BRJ-X, could be accelerated, thanks to powerful interest in the Asia-Pacific region.

Formal launch is expected later this year, possibly at Farnborough airshow in July, rather than toward the end of the year. Although the Canadian manufacturer is not putting numbers on potential customers, the project is said to be drawing powerful interest, particularly in Asia-Pacific.

Bombardier says the aircraft is being well-received by major airlines as a "true 100-seater" rather than a scaled-down version of a large transport jet.

Originally conceived as a 90-seater, subsequent study saw the design evolve into a 100-115 seater. The baseline configuration has 108 seats in two classes, but that can be extended to 115.

First flight is scheduled for early 2003 with first deliveries in the third quarter of that year.

One innovation being considered by the design team is for the use of overhead carry-on storage bins. It has a rotational bin "bucket" in which the entire bin rotates downwards to about eye level. The system prevents overstuffing of overhead bins and, when closed, "opens up" the cabin, providing a wide-body look.

The cockpit design is aimed at state-of-the art automation and flight displays all geared to minimising workload. The assumption, says Bombardier, is that the aircraft will be operated in an increasingly dense operational environment.

With safety as the prime mover, the philosophy of the cockpit design is that the pilot is kept constantly "in the loop" to reduce the chance of errors. There will be the minimum number of steps to each procedure. Features include larger displays and graphics along with interactive displays and pointing systems to replace textual data.

In its configuration studies, Bombardier is evaluating fly-by-wire control systems.

Two versions are planned, a BRJ-X-110 with a range of 1,800nm (3,331km) and a BRJ-X-110ER with uprated engines and strengthened fuselage that would offer a range of 2,400nm (4,441km).

Source: Flight Daily News