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CRJ900 launch delayed

Bombardier has delayed the launch of its CRJ900 90-seat regional jet until the third quarter while it continues negotiations with prospective airline customers. Despite the six-month slip, certification is still planned for the third quarter of 2002.

Bombardier Regional Aircraft vice-president for marketing Trung Ngo says commonality with the 70-seat CRJ700, now in flight-testing, allows the certification schedule for the stretched CRJ900 to be compressed.

"They are essentially the same aircraft," he says.

The target date for launch of the 110-seat Bombardier BRJ-X has been slipped by almost a year, meanwhile, to the first quarter of 2001, with a first flight in the first quarter of 2003 and certification in the second quarter of 2004.

Certification of the CRJ700 is on schedule for the third quarter, Bombardier says, with deliveries to begin in the first quarter of next year. The first CRJ700 airframe is to be modified to become the first CRJ900, Ngo says, with the insertion of two plugs into the fuselage. The first flight is scheduled for the first quarter of next year.

Bombardier has selected a 5% uprated version of the CRJ700's General Electric CF34-8C1 engine to power the stretched aircraft. The -8C5 has the same turbomachinery as the CF34-8D/E engines under development for the Fairchild 728JET and Embraer RJ-170, says Frank Klaus, general manager of GE's small commercial engines operation.

The -8C5 is being developed on a "very aggressive schedule", says Klaus. Ground tests have begun, and certification is planned for the second quarter of 2002.

Ngo says Bombardier is considering standardising on the -8C5 for the CRJ700 and 900, derating the engine for the 70-seater. GE proposes to install its noise-reducing "chevron" nozzle on the -8C.

In addition to a fuselage stretch and higher-thrust engines, changes from the CRJ700 to the CRJ900 include a strengthened wing and main landing gear; upgraded wheels and brakes; larger forward underfloor baggage hold with an additional door; and two extra overwing exits.

Bombardier has completed a cabin mock-up with a two-class layout providing three-abreast premium and four-abreast economy seating. Another possible two-class layout has four-abreast premium seating with increased pitch. This configuration reduces capacity to 82 from 86 in a typical single-class configuration.

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