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AIX: Bombardier switches focus to CRJ

After making its AIX debut last year with a production-standard cabin mock-up of the newly in-service CSeries, Bombardier is back at Hamburg, but this time the emphasis is on its CRJ family and the Atmosphere cabin it unveiled last year. It comes as the Canadian manufacturer anticipates an upswing in demand for its 18-year-old family of 65- to 100-seat jets.

Although there will not be another full-scale mock-up of the CRJ, Bombardier will offer visitors to its stand "an immersive cabin experience", details of which were being kept under wraps on the eve of the show. "We found a [production] company that can do crazy things with the immersive environment," says Patrick Baudis, vice-president and head of marketing, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. "We’ll be demonstrating all the innovation we can put into the cabin."

The Atmosphere cabin – available on the CRJ700, CRJ900 and CRJ1000 – is an evolution of the last CRJ NextGen redesign in 2007. Although Bombardier showed a concept of the new interior at last year's show, "it was still a work in progress", says Baudis. The latest one is the "nailed down" version that will be delivered later this year, although the launch customer and delivery schedule are still to be announced.

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Some of the features of the cabin include bigger luggage bins and a larger front lavatory, which now includes a window and is easier to use for people with reduced mobility, he says. Without moving any rows of seats, Bombardier was able to "play with the cross section and open up the front of the airplane to allow us to increase the height of the lavatory by about 5cm [2in] making it much more PRM-accessible".

Luggage bins in the economy section have been increased in size, making them capable of accommodating 40% larger roller bags. This reflects the trend among more passengers to travel with carry-on luggage only, says Baudis. The handle and the hinges have been redesigned to allow doors to open 7cm wider. "We worked a lot with [supplier] Zodiac to improve the experience," he adds.

The Atmosphere cabin includes new mood lighting and power points on seats. While Bombardier has retained its standard seating layout and two seating suppliers for the CRJ – Zodiac and Rockwell Collins – Baudis says Bombardier is considering introducing a new vendor.

Bombardier, which has struggled in recent years to meet sales expectations for the CRJ and Q400 turboprop as it has focused on the CSeries, is hanging its hopes on an upswing in orders for the CRJ as airlines look to replace ageing smaller regional jets. Last year, Colin Bole, senior vice-president of sales and asset management, promised a major push in 2018 on CRJ and Q400 marketing.

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