Lane Wallace/LOS ANGELES

BOMBARDIER'S LAUNCH of the de Havilland Dash 8-400 now seems certain as it begins negotiations with potential risk-sharing partners on the 70-seat, high-speed, regional turboprop.

Initial letters of intent to purchase the model have been signed and some early delivery positions have already been committed, the Canadian Company says. A launch at the Paris air show in June is probable.

Bombardier Regional Aircraft, division executive vice president, Tom Appleton told the Speed-news conference held in Los Angeles, California on 14-15 March, that the schedule called for board approval to offer the aircraft to airlines in April, a first flight in the fourth-quarter of 1997 and certification in the fourth quarter of 1998.

An airline advisory-panel was appointed in February to assist in final definition of the aircraft.

The stretched, re-engine, 350kt (650km/h) -400 will sit at the top of a Dash 8 range, which begins with the 37-passenger -200 - given Canadian certification on 13 March- and includes the 50-seat -300. The -200 is an up-rated, hot-and-high, development of the original Dash 8-100.

Launch of the stretched, 70-seat, CRJ-X derivative of Bombardier's 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet is expected in 1996. According to the company, low-speed wind tunnel testing of the CRJ-X has confirmed range projections of 2,830km (1,530nm) in 74-seat North American configuration and 2,350km in 72-seat European configuration.

The CRJ-X has a lengthened wing and up-rated General Electric CF34 turbofans.

Source: Flight International