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Bombardier will not replace CRJ's CF34s with new engines

Bombardier has ruled out updating its CRJ line of regional aircraft with currently-available new engines, saying additional weight of new engines would largely erode improvements in engine efficiency.

"The equation is not positive for putting those new engines on the plane," Bombardier vice-president and head of marketing Patrick Baudis says on 21 June. "Today, we think we have the right engine on that platform."

Questions have persisted for several years about whether Bombardier will equip CRJs with new engines in a move to modernise the regional jet and to improve fuel efficiency.

Observers have suggested that a modified version of GE Aviation's Passport engine could do the job.

GE CF34 engines now power the CRJ line, which includes the CRJ700, CRJ900 and CRJ1000.

Such a move would follow a path struck by Bombardier's prime competitor in the regional aircraft business Embraer.

That company is updating its E-Jets with a host of design changes, including a new wing and Pratt & Whitney PW1700G and PW1900G geared turbofans. The result is Embraer's E2 line of aircraft.

But new-generation engines weigh more than older engines – weight that translates into increased fuel, Baudis notes.

"They bring better fuel efficiency, but it comes with a weight cost. You bring additional cost because you have bigger engines," he says.

Baudis insists that on short regional routes the new engines' efficiency gains do not adequately overcome the combination of the weight penalty and the expense of certifying a re-engined CRJ.

"It does not make sense based on a fuel-burn basis because there is not enough flight time to recover the additional weight you put on the airplane," Baudis says.

The heavier engines on Embraer' E-Jet E2s are among reasons why the E175-E2 has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 44,800kg (98,767lb).

That weight has effectively placed E175-E2s beyond reach of the US regional carriers that operate aircraft for major US airlines.

Those regional airlines largely cannot buy aircraft that have MTOW of more than 39,010kg due to so-called "scope" restrictions in the contracts between major US airlines and their pilots.

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