Bombardier plans to reinvigorate its marketing efforts on the Q400 turboprop and CRJ regional jet after admitting that it has neglected the two aircraft in recent years.
In addition, it is evaluating future engine options and other changes for both types in a bid to drive performance improvements.
“I think we took our eye slightly off the ball,” says Colin Bole, senior vice-president sales and aircraft management at the Canadian airframer. “We will put more emphasis on marketing both the Q400 and CRJ in future.”
Although the backlogs for both types have improved of late – standing at 52 and 81 respectively as of 31 March – they continue to lag those of their competitors at ATR and Embraer.
On the Q400, the emphasis is on the “flexibility” of the platform, says Jean-François Tessier, director of CRJ programme strategy.
A 78-seat example is on display in Paris in the colours of Abu Dhabi’s Falcon Aviation Services – although understood to be eventually destined for a Senegalese carrier – but an 86-seat, high-density variant is also available.
So far, only Thailand’s Nok Air has acquired the higher capacity model, which uses a seat pitch of 29in (74cm), plus reconfiguration of the forward baggage compartment, to achieve the increase.
However, there is potential to add another seat row if pitch is further reduced to 28in, says Ross Mitchell, vice-president, business acquisition, taking capacity to 90 seats.
While the massively reduced pitch is likely to be restricted to the Southeast Asian market, Bombardier says it could also perform a stretch of the Q400 which would be “technically very easy” through the addition of a fuselage plug, says Tessier. The additional weight would be within the scope of the type’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150 5,071shp engines, he adds.
“If there’s demand and an airline wants to be a launch customer, we would be happy to look at it,” says Tessier. “We have enough margin to deliver a 90-seat plane.”
It is additionally in discussions with all the major propulsion manufacturers “to evaluate the technology they can put on the market”.
Tessier stops short of committing to re-engining, noting that any fuel saving would have to be sufficient to “justify the [cost of adding] the new engine”.
It is a similar story on the CRJ family. Bombardier has committed to delivering a “double digit” cut in fuel burn by 2020, says Tessier, through both an aerodynamic clean-up of the aircraft and engine enhancements.
The former could include a reshaped wing on the CRJ1000 and a longer, reshaped wing on the CRJ900, which would grow to match the 85ft 11in wingspan on its larger sibling, alongside the possible addition of landing gear doors.
GE has already delivered a 1% fuel burn improvement on its CF34 engines through the introduction of a reshaped conic nozzle and further incremental performance gains may mean that completely new powerplants are not required, says Tessier.
“Re-engining is a quite weight-heavy way of improving fuel efficiency,” he says.
Source: Flight Daily News