Bombardier has seen an increase in airliner production during 2009, but the airframer admits that the difficult trading conditions have delivered a significant drop-off in sales.

"2009 was a tough year order-wise for commercial aircraft," says Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Gary Scott.

He says that deliveries of CRJ regional jets and Q Series turboprops for the 12 months to the end of its 2010 fiscal year, which ends on 31 January, will exceed the 110 shipped the previous year, "but like everyone else, we're not getting orders".

Scott says that in FY2009 it had "a little over one book to build, whereas this year we are well under one".

During its FY2009 Bombardier secured 114 net orders for its airliner programmes. During the first nine months of FY2010, its net orders for in-production types stood at 16 aircraft (all Q400s), plus a further 50 launch orders for its new CSeries twinjet. The airframer is due to report its full FY2010 totals on 1 April.

Although regional jet production is being cut this year, Bombardier is currently aiming to keep Q400 output level, says Scott. "We hope that the industry has seen the bottom and will be able to sustain these rates. As orders come back, our production will reflect that."

Like rival ATR, Scott expects the sustained high fuel prices will drive up turboprop demand. "At $20 a barrel of oil, fuel wasn't that big a factor. Today at $80 a barrel it is a major factor in the shift towards turboprops."

He predicts that this will see turboprops becoming "the airplanes of choice" for the shorter sectors, ie less than 560km (300nm) while the regional jet, with its higher speed, will continue to be favoured for longer routes.

Source: Flight International