The regional sales boom appears to have ground to a halt with total orders down over 40% during the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2007, largely due to a cooling down of the turboprop market. However, regional deliveries have increased by over 25% driven by a strong performance by Embraer.

There were 160 net orders placed for western regional aircraft during the first half of 2008 compared with 275 in the same period last year. While jet orders fell 15% from 144 to 122, the big drop was in the turboprop sector which declined by over two-thirds from 131 to just 38.

Bombardier, which had been the big seller in the first half of last year, has just released data for the first six months of its fiscal year 2008 (31 January to 31 July) showing that its orders have fallen by 60% from 175 to 69. Its orders were split almost evenly between its turboprop and jet products, with the latter holding a slight advantage.

After a slow start to 2007, Embraer has more than doubled its tally from last year to 83 thanks to strong sales of the larger E-Jet models, the E-190 and E-195. The Brazilian airframer was the top regional seller in the first half, with just over 50% of the total net orders.

 Western Regional Orders H1 2008

ATR had a very poor first half by its recent standards, selling just eight aircraft, compared with 63 in the first half of 2007. However the company remains confident it will have a strong second half, with chief executive Stéphane Mayer saying at Farnborough in July that despite "the softening market trends in the first half of the year" he still expected total ATR sales to break 1,000 by year-end. By August, its tally stood at 958, meaning that it has a challenging 42 sales to sign up by the end of the year if it is to achieve its objective.

The regional manufacturers shipped 154 aircraft in the first half compared with 121 in the first half of 2007, but again it was only Embraer which saw a significant rise. Despite the large order intake over the last two years, turboprop output was flat in the first half of 2008.

Embraer's output rose by 70% to 81 aircraft, representing three quarters of all regional jets delivered during the period. While the bulk was the new E-Jet models, the total did include five Chinese-built ERJ-145s.

Bombardier's output fell slightly during the first half of its FY2008, with a slight rise in CRJ deliveries being more than offset by a slight decline in Q Series production. Overall, the airframer's market share of deliveries fell from just under 50% in 2007 to a third this year.

ATR output rose from 17 to 22 aircraft, leaving it much to do in the second half it is to reach its stated aim - reiterated by Mayer at Farnborough - that it will deliver over 60 aircraft this year to generate a turnover of more than $1.3 billion.

The overall backlog is almost unchanged since the end of last year, at 927 aircraft. Embraer is market leader with just over 50% share, ahead of Bombardier on around 30%. While ATR has the smallest overall share, its 181 backlog makes it market leader in its sector, with 62% of the unfilled turboprop orders.

Source: Flight International