A revival of the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 programme is under way following Flybe's order for 17 aircraft, plus 20 options, and a letter of intent (LoI) from Canadian start-up Regional Airlines Holdings (Regco) for up to 25 aircraft.

The Flybe deal, which was confirmed as expected last week, boosts the Q400's firm backlog to 24 aircraft (Flight International, 22-28 April). Steve Ridolfi, president of Bombardier Regional Aircraft, says the future of the programme, threatened with the axe before production was suspended for two months at the end of last year, is "very much secure". He concedes that the aircraft's introduction, which was beset with technical problems, was a "near-death experience", but claims that reliability is now "very close" to its 99% target.

The Regco LoI, mooted last year, is for 10 firm orders, plus 15 options, for operation from Toronto City Centre Airport to 17 points in Canada and the USA (Flight International, 15-21 October 2002).

Flybe's Q400 deal will reduce its fleet to just the two types - the other is the BAe 146-300. The Q400s will replace its four Bombardier CRJ200s, seven Dash 8 Q200/300s and seven 146-200s. Four will be delivered this year, eight in 2004, two in 2005 and three in 2006. It has begun talking to Bombardier and Embraer, as wellas Airbus and Boeing, about replacing its last eight BAe 146-300s.

Source: Flight International