Bombardier Aerospace expects to make a management decision to continue with the BRJ-X regional jet project on schedule at the end of 1999, but has slipped the full launch decision to the second quarter of 2000.

The company had planned on a launch verdict around October and to certificate the first member of the family, the BRJ-X-90, by the end of 2002. Under the revised schedule, the first flight of the 90-seater is now set for the second quarter of 2002, while certification has slipped about nine months to the third quarter of 2003.

Bombardier still intends to stick to its ambitious 36-month development cycle despite the delay, which results from a longer-than-expected concept definition process. The company is anxious to have the configuration frozen by the planned launch date.

"The concept definition plan is well under way," says Bombardier engineering and product development executive vice-president John Holding, speaking at the Speednews suppliers conference in Los Angeles this month. The expected launch decision would cover the 90- and 110-seaterversions, he said.

Holding says market and technical studies will continue through to August, although the BRJ-X has already changed from the original concept. "We thought it would emerge as a hub feeder, but now it is coming out as a point-to-point aircraft," he says.

Bombardier also intends to choose the engine for the family by August. Contenders include the CFM International CFM56-9, Pratt & Whitney PW6000 and BMW Rolls-Royce BR715.

The plan calls for two versions of each baseline aircraft. The baseline BRJ-X-90, seating 95 passengers, will have a range of 3,330km (1,800nm). A follow-on version, the -90ER, will seat the same number but will have an auxiliary belly fuel tank and a range of 4,720km. The 115-seat BRJ-X-110 will have a standard range of about 3,330km, while its extended-range derivative will fly the same number of passengers up to 4,720km.

Detailed operating figures have been revealed for the first time (see table), and the size of the two variants has been adjusted as Bombardier gets close to final definition.

The -90 is now 31.21m (102ft) long overall, compared to 33.2m in previous iterations. It is also slightly taller, with an increased fin height of 11.16m compared to 10.5m before. The -110, meanwhile, has shrunk to 34.75m long, compared to 36.7m for the earlier configuration.

Wingspan, which is common to both versions along with height, engines, systems and flightdeck, has been extended more than 1.3m to 29.96m. Fuselage diameter is established at 3.6m, wing area at 101.3m2 and tail area at 27.9m2.

Source: Flight International