The Bombardier CRJ200 programme is set to receive a further boost in the form of an Air Wisconsin order, Flight International can reveal. The deal follows large sales of the 50-seat regional jet to fellow United Express partner carriers SkyWest and Atlantic Coast Airlines (ACA).

Air Wisconsin has selected the CRJ200 over the competing Embraer ERJ-145XR confirm senior industry and airline sources. It had earlier been revealed that the airline was planning to order up to 75 50-seat jets and take options on a similar number of aircraft. The carrier already operates nine CRJ200s.

The Appleton-based airline will not announce a decision until a deal is finalised with United on an increased regional jet fleet. United's pilot union has agreed to a revised scope clause agreement, allowing 150 more jets as turboprop replacements, linking the increase to mainline fleet growth. It has allocated 62 to ACA and 45 to Sky-West, Air Wisconsin receiving the balance.

A major factor in the Air Wisconsin decision was the Canadian Government offer to underwrite 75% of funding and the Quebec authorities another 10% to counter Brazilian Proex financing (Flight International, 16-22 January). Bombardier claims that without state help it will lose the deal to Embraer, which in turn has drawn loud protests from Brasilia.

The Air Wisconsin win, with recent sales to Skywest and ACA totalling 94 firm orders plus options, is likely again to put pressure on production. Bombardier officials earlier hinted that with further orders the company would have to review production rates. CRJ200 production is ramping to 12.5 aircraft a month from April, with 150 jets due for delivery in 2002. This might now increase to 160-170 a year.

A new plant at Mirabel should relieve pressure on the Dorval facility, allowing both the CRJ200 and the new stretch CRJ700 production lines to grow. Bombardier plans to begin moving production of the CRJ700 and the planned CRJ900, to the new plant this summer. The first CRJ700 is now due for delivery to Brit Air by March.

Source: Flight International