Ageing Bombardier CRJ200s are to be given a new lease of life as short-haul, large-cabin business jets under a conversion programme launched at the show.

Project Phoenix - a consortium made up partly of businesses run by former Bombardier executives - says it can deliver a "CRJ Phoenix" within 10 months of an order. Prices will vary according to the age of the aircraft, but the benchmark price for one with 20,000 flying hours will be $17.9 million, says Project Phoenix president Mike Cappuccitti.

The consortium will buy aircraft on the market only when an order has been placed, but Cappuccitti says that out of 1,200 CRJ200s in service, "we have honed it down to 300 suitable candidates, of which 20 or 30 are available right now".

Conversions will be managed by Montreal-based consortium member Aerospace Concepts and carried out by completion houses including fellow partner Primary Colours of Ontario. Sino Swearingen distributor Action Aviation will market the aircraft.

With a range of 4,000km (2,200nm) - or 5,550km with a fuel tank fitted - Cappuccitti says the aircraft is ideal for regional VIP transport, particularly in emerging business aviation markets. "Apart from the range, you wouldn't know you weren't in a [Bombardier] Global Express," he says.

Project Phoenix signed letters of intent for three aircraft at the show, and says it is in discussions with potential buyers for 31 more.

"With lead times for new business jets as they are, there is the need in the market for quick deliveries of aircraft," says Project Phoenix's John Lawson, a former Bombardier business aircraft sales chief.

Source: Flight International