Bombardier will offer airlines a two-step fix for a flap failure issue that last month prompted US and Canadian authorities to place operational restrictions on CRJ100/200 regional jets.

Authorities have been aware of the flap failure problem on the 40- to 50-seat CRJs for some time. However, the problem was elevated from a nuisance to a safety issue last winter in Canada after a CRJ200 nearly ran out of fuel.

The flight had performed an unscheduled diversion with its flaps stuck in a deployed position, which burned fuel at a higher rate because of the increased drag.

The US Federal Aviation Authority's airworthiness directive issued on 21 August indicated that cold weather is a cause of the mechanical issue.

"We have some improvements through the fall which will fix this problem and we have a permanent fix that we would expect to certify by early [fourth quarter]," says Laurent Beaudoin, Bombardier's chairman and chief executive. "But we don't think it will have an impact on costs."

Speaking to analysts during a second-quarter earnings teleconference, Beaudoin declined to elaborate on the technical specifics for either step. But he said the first step "will essentially make this problem go away". The second step is a complete redesign of the flaps and will be certificated within the next few months.

Neither step is expected to significantly increase costs for the airlines or the manufacturer. "We don't think there will be any material impact outside the normal course of business," Beaudoin said.

Separately, Beaudoin confirmed for the first time that Bombardier is studying options to boost production of CRJ700/900/1000s back to peak levels - one aircraft assembled every three days.

The company has already announced a plan to ramp up production from one aircraft every five days to one aircraft every four days starting in February 2008. But the company also is considering the possibility of returning to the even faster peak rate, he said.

Source: Flight International