Testing of the Bombardier CRJ900 stretch derivative has got off to an early start with the maiden flight of the first modified prototype, strengthening the Canadian manufacturer's lead over competing 90-seat developments planned by rivals Embraer and Fairchild Aerospace. Bombardier has flown the aircraft less than seven months after the 86-seat development was formally launched and some five months ahead of its own deadline. The 21 February flight from Mirabel lasted almost 3h.
The lead CRJ900 prototype is a modification of the first CRJ700 test aircraft. It incorporates a forward 2.29m (7.5ft) and aft 1.57m long fuselage plugs. Delivery to launch customer Brit Air is scheduled for the first quarter of 2003.
Bombardier has been able to fast-track the CRJ900's development by leveraging off the earlier CRJ700 derivative and grandfathering type certification.