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Bombardier unveils plan for 90-seat jet family

Bombardier has announced its intention to develop an all new 90-seat class regional aircraft, dashing longstanding Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI) hopes of incorporating its Global Express business jet high aspect ratio super critical wing into the design.

The proposed BRJ-X Option B design will feature an all new wing mounting two 20,000lb thrust (89kN) turbofan engines.

Bombardier ruled out the Japanese wing on the grounds that it "-compromised galley access and mission capability. We need a short-haul wing that is better suited for a regional 1,800nm [3,330km] range that doesn't have that sort of complexity built in," says Steven Ridolfi, Bombardier marketing and aircraft programmes vice-president.

The Canadian manufacturer has embarked on a 12-month pre-launch phase confirming market requirements, completing conceptual definition and selecting suppliers and partners. Japan is still viewed as key player in the $700 million development, despite the wing decision.

"They've have not signed on as a partner, but they are not excluded. We're in discussions and without a doubt they will be fully involved," adds Ridolfi.

A BRJ-X airline advisory council has been established comprising existing CRJ operators Air Canada, Lauda Air, Maersk and Tyrolean, along with Brit Air and Uni Air of Taiwan. Bombardier is forecasting a demand for some 2,500 80/110-seat aircraft over the next 20 years. The company is planning for a 36-month long development leading to possible certification and first delivery in 2003.

The aircraft's all new fuselage will be designed around a 3.3m, five-abreast cabin. Bombardier says it is studying "commonality benefits" with the 70-seat CRJ-700, on such items as cockpit layout and subsystems.

No decision has yet been taken on an engine, with the BMW Rolls-Royce BR715, Pratt & Whitney PW6000 and CFM International CFM56 all expected to be in contention.

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