I just yesterday flew College Station Easterwood to Houston Intercontinental on a brand new EMB-145XLR (with winglets!). Continental Express has replaced its normal ATR-42 (and previously EMB-120) equipment with all RJs. I had some questions:
1. I noticed that the EMB-145EXLR has a strange fairing underneath the lower mid fuselage between the wings. The regular RJs have it but it is very subtle. This is a very pronounced fairing. You can see it in this attached picture in between the two main landing gear (you have to look closely it's rather dark) Does anyone know what it is for?
Photo © Matthew Smith
2. I thought it odd that they were using the XLR version on the IAH-CLL-IAH routing as it is about a 15-20 minute flight. I assume it is because of the delivery backup at Embraer that they didn't have a regular variant. But I am not sure.
3. With the turboprop aircraft, CoEX would always, when taking off to the south simply turn to a heading of 31-32 degrees and fly straight on to IAH. With the RJ, however, we made a sharp right turn to the West about 1-3 seconds after lifting off the runway. We then headed about 5 minutes directly west towards Austin. Upon reaching 8,000-10,000 feet we then slowly turned east, arched around College Station and only then turned south towards IAH. This seemed to add about 5 minutes to the journey. I have three theories on why, but I'm not sure:
a. Noise abatement. The turboprops used to fly over the southern part of the town. I figure they have to avoid this with the jet. However, then why didn't we just turn south after we had avoided the residential areas.
b. Something to do with gaining sufficient altitute to make the jets more efficient.
Anyone know why?
I have to add that the Embraer wing looks great with the winglets. They are quite tall and add a lot to the character of the aircraft. It is also important to note that Embaer added large strakes on the direct rear of the aircraft as well.
I heard they are going to operate these to the west coast from Houston and to Central/South America locations. Is that right?