III.1. The BAE Systems Avro RJ
The origins of the Avro RJ
-x family can be traced back well into the 1950s. In early 1958 first studies about a four-engined feeder-jet emerged, however it took 20 years until the project was launched, at this time called BAe 146-100. The maiden flight of this 70-85 seater was in 1981, the entry into service in 1983. The larger –200 version (85-100 passengers) entered service the same year, the largest family member, the –300 (100-115 passengers) began service in 1988. A total of 219 BAe “Whisperliners“ were build including more than 20 freighters. Operators included Druk Air (KR/Buthan), Air BC
(ceased ops), Air UK (UK/UK), Ansett New Zealand (cheased ops), PSA (US/USA), LAN Chile (LA/Chile), Air Wisconsin (ZW/USA), Crossair (LX/Switzerland) and Thai Airways (TG/Thailand).
In June 1992 BAe decided to refresh the BAe 146 family and replaced the unreliable ALF502 with the Textron Lycoming LF507, a more reliable engine, some other minor changes took place as well. All three versions of the so called “Avro RJ
“- family had their maiden flights in 1992. Since then orders for the RJ70/85/100 have come in with an unsteady flow. More than 150 Avro RJs have been sold till today and most serve with airlines in Europe such as Lufthansa CityLine (CL/Germany), Crossair (LX/Switzerland), CityFlyer Express (BA/UK) and Azzura Air (ZS/Italy), still some have found homes in other parts of the world with Mesaba Airlines (XJ/USA), National Jet (NC
/Australia) and Uzbekinstan Airways (HY/Uzbekistan).
The new follow-on versions, the Avro RJX 70/85/100 were officially launched in March 2000 and feature again a new engine, this time the Allied Signal AS
977-1A. This and a reduced empty weight (one metric ton less) lead to a decrease of costs of about 15 % and an 17 % increase in range compared to the BAe 146. Flight testing had begun and service entry was scheduled for early 2002. However in November 2001 BAE Systems announced the cancellation of the Avro RJX project, citing a weak demand after September 11th´s attacks which made it unlikely to obtain more sales even though rumours about a large Air Wisconsin order were strong at that time. All orders have been cancelled, the future of the prototypes remains unclear.
.2. The CRJ700/900
The Canadair RJ
´s roots can be traced back to the Challenger 601, a business jet. In 1989 Bombardier launched a 50-seat regional jet, the CRJ100 based on the Challenger. Launch customer was DLT (Deutsche Lufttransport), nowadays Lufthansa CityLine (CL/Germany). In 1991 the CRJ100 took into the air for the first time and soon orders mounted with customers such as Brit Air (DB/France) , Atlantic Southeast Airlines (DL/USA), Midway Airlines (cheased ops) and Air Canada (AC/Canada) signing for the type and the follow-on version CRJ200 which was a slightly improved CRJ100, increasing over-all performance by roughly 2.5%.
On January 17th 1997 a 70-seater, at that time called CRJ-X and basing on the CRJ100/200, was launched with a four-plane order from an undisclosed customer which was later revealed as being French carrier Brit Air (DB/France). In 1999 plans about the 86-seat CRJ900 emerged and the plane was launched in July 2000 with the launch customers being again Brit Air (DB/France) and leasing group GECAS. However only GECAS has remained committed to the project, Brit Air was forced by mother company Air France (AF/France) to suspend the deal in favour of a newly issued joint request for proposal for 40 70/110-seat RJs.
Both planes feature the same basic engine, the GE
CF34-8C1 respecitve –8C5. For the CRJ700 Bombardier predicts a range of about 1,950 nm with the ER
version. Another prediction is, that the CRJ700 is able to reach the break-even with only 29 passengers on a typical 500nm leg. Savings compared to the CRJ100 amount to a mere 20%. The CRJ700 has entered into airline service in the year 2000, the CRJ900 is currently in the flight testing program and will be introduced into service in 2002. Orders amount to only 30, being placed by lessor GECAS and the Mesa Air Group (YV/USA), even though the plane is 2.5 years earlier available then the competition.
.3. The Embraer 170/175/190/195 family
Original EMB-170 studies were based on a stretched but widened ERJ-145 to allow a 4-abreast configuration. However when the Embraer 170, 190 and 195 were launched in 1999 with orders from Crossair (LX/Switzerland) and Regional Airlines (FN/France)it was a clean-sheet design after LX
had urged Embraer to bring up a proposal competing with FD
´s 728-family. The Embraers are quite similar in design with the 728JET-family, however they are only four-abreast and longer. The engines are again GE
CF34, the –8E and –10E and are thus very similar to the ones which power the competing aircraft. The Embraer 170 was rolled-out in late October 2001.Flight testing will last during 2002 with the first aircraft being handed over to Crossair (now Swiss) in late-2002. In the Embraer 170-family design group are several airlines which have to be regarded as (potential) customers for the project, these include:
-TAM [JJ/Brazil] (Memorandum of Understanding for 25+75 Embraer 195; cancelled)
-Transbrasil [cheased ops]
-Avianca Colombia [AV/Colombia]
-Delta Air Lines [DL/USA](large CRJ700 order via Comair, ASA)
-Crossair (launch customer, now Swiss) and
-Regional Airlines (cancelled order in 2001)
During the roll-out ceremony of the Embraer 170 a new member of the family was announced, the 78-seat Embraer 175 and the planes were re-designated into Embraer 170, 190 and 195 (former names ERJ-170; -190-100; -200). However the first flight had to be delayed due to problems with the fly-by-wire system and took place after a two month-long delay. Four prototypes are now in the air (one had a minor accident) and Embraer states that the planned delivery schedule still will not be affected with first delivery to launch customer Swiss set for late 2002 even though certification date has slipped to early/mid-03. Certification of the EMB175 is scheduled for July 2004, the EMB195´s for December 2004 and the EMB190´s for December 2005. Quick-Change- and Cargo-Versions of the Embraer 170 and 195 to hold 9 respective 14 pallets are studied and are available from 2005 onwards when a “sizeable” order is placed. An “EMB-155/160” is evaluated to compete with FD
´s proposed 528-100. The “ECJ”,the Embraer Corporate Jet based one the EMB-170 has been put on hold until 2004.
.4. The Fairchild-Dornier 728/928
Internal studies about a 50- till 100-seat regional jet family came up in late 1997, however it took another 6 months until these plans were revealed. During the ILA 1998 Fairchild Dornier and four airlines (Crossair (LX/Switzerland) , Eurowings (EW/Germany) , Lufthansa City Line (CL/Germany)  and Proteus Air System (AF/France) ) revealed the family and placed “pre-conditional“ orders for 165 planes. The basic model of this twin-engined family of “regional airliners“ is the 70/85-seat 728-100, the other members of the family include the 55-seater 528-100 and the 95/110-seater 928-100. A rumoured but not yet revealed version is the 115-seat X28-100, already dubbed 1128-100.
The 728-100 is a 5-abreast airliner with under-wing mounted engines, designed for a passenger capacity of 70-80 pax. Design range in standard configuration is about 1,700 nm, in the extended range version 2,300nm. The avionics are supplied by Honeywell Primus, the engines are the GE
CF34-8D3. The turnaround time of the 728-100 is considered to be 28 minutes, the block time for a typical 500 nm-sector is at 91 minutes. The payload is about 8,000kg. Entry into service was scheduled for mid-2003. Launch customer for this plane is Lufthansa CityLine who placed an order for 60+60 728-100 in April 1999 with some of the options being convertible into 528-100 orders.
The 928-100 is basically a strech of the 728-100 although FD
claims that the plane s optimised as a 100-seater with the GE
CF-34-10D. The turn-around time is set at 33 minutes, the payload is about 11,000kg. Entry into service is scheduled for early 2005 for both the 928-100 and the long-range -200. A “Convertible version” is offered with space for 6 standard pallets, aiming at markets such as Alaska, Hawaii and Africa. Launch customer for the 928-100 is German lessor Bavaria Leasing (BAVA/Germany).
The smallest member of the family is the yet-to-be-launched 528-100, a 55-seater. The commonailty between the 528-100 and its bigger brothers is high although to date no exact data has been revealed. Engine supplier is again General Electric with ist CF34-8DX. However, to date it has not been decided if the third family member will be the 528-100 or a larger plane, referred to as 1128-100. FD
has always stated that they have enough money to develop three family members but it is assumed that with a high-enough demand all four versions can go ahead. A joined production of the 528-100 with China´s AVIC II
is under consideration with Hainan Airlines (HU/China) being rumoured to be the launch customer.
Due to the insolvency filling of Fairchild-Dornier in April 2002 and the declared insolvency in July 2002 the FD
728 project had to be put on ice for the time being. Currently talks with a Siberian aluminium producer and Suchoi concerning the take-over of the project are conducted with unknown out-come.
.5 The Airbus A318
In 1997 Airbus Industrie Asia (AIA) and Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) singed an agreement to develop the AE31X regional jet family. Two types were thought, the AE316, a 95-105 seaters, and the AE317 with seating arrangement for 115-125 pax. Range was set at 1,800 nm in standard configuration and 2,750 nm in the extended range version. MTWO was set at 128,300 lb. A high degree of commonality with the A320-family was one of the targets, the engine choice was between the CFM56, the BR715 and the PW8000. However different options about the working shares among the partners let to a break-down of the project.
Meanwhile Boeing had aquired McDonell Douglas and inherited the MD
-95, a 108-seater. Airbus quickly proposed another derivate of the A320, the A319M5 (Minus 5 frames), which was later renamed A318, targeting the B717-200´s market. Within a short period of time several customers signed orders for the plane including Air France (AF/France), America West (HP/USA), British Airways (BA/UK) and Iinternational Lease Finance Corp (ILFC/USA). First flight was in early 2002. Problems occurred in December 2001 when Pratt&Whitney confirmed it would not be able to deliver the proposed engine within the set time frame due to engineering problems and higher-than-anticipated fuel burn. This led to a change in the planned flight test program which will now mainly been carried out with the CFM56 2ith first delivery set to Frontier Airlines (F9/USA)
.6 The Boeing B737-600
Boeing had already some experience with 100-seat derivates of its successful Boeing 737, namely the –500 version which has sold in high numbers to US majors (UA, CO
) and European carriers (AF, LH
). When the B737 NG
was launched in 1996 its smallest member was the designated –500X, later renamed –600, designed to replace the –500.
The plane is offered in two versions: the basic 56t version with 1,500 nm range and the HGW with 65t and 3,300 nm range. This plane has not found many customers to date; the biggest ones being Continental Airlines (CO/USA) and SAS Scandinavian Airline System (SK/Denmark) with other airlines placing only single-digit orders. The orders backlog is mostly with the big lessors GECAS and ILFC and is likely to be converted into orders for other B737NG-family members in due time. Recent rumours suggest a that SAS has decided to reduce the number of B737-500 in its fleet due to technical/operational problems.
.7 The Boeing B717-200
Only the name is Boeing, the plane is a Douglas DC-9 derivate – only 30 years younger. From its start the DC-9 family had constantly grown, from about 80 seats with the first version (DC-9-10) to roughly 150/170 seats with the MD
-80 series. The smallest member of the MD
-80 family was the MD
-87 with 130 seats while the updated MD
-90 series was a 150-seat aircraft. In 1991 McDD was thinking about how to increase the plane´s appeal to airlines and came up with a shortened version, dubbed MD
-95 for 106 passengers, aiming for in-service entry in 1995.
Technically the B717-200 is a DC-9-30 minus two rows and with the wings of the –34 plus a completely new flight deck and new engines, the BR715. However the plane struggled to find customers and was only launched by ValuJet (now AirTran; FI
/USA) in late 1995, remaining the only customer for some time. Sales have been slow although Boeing anticipated a market of about 3,000 planes in early predictions but has cut these numbers to around 400, a figure which is believed to be below break-even of the project.. A problem is here the in-house competition with the Boeing B737-600. Studied derivates were the –100X version for 75-85 pax and the –300X with seating for 120-130 pax but both have been put on ice as Boeing is not willing to invest further into the B717. Rumours are floating that Boeing will end production of the B717-200 after the last frames have been delivered to Midwest Airlines (YX/USA). The production rate has been cut from initially four frames per month to only 1-1.5 planes per month in 2002. Main customer is Air Tran, Midwest Airlines will become the second big customer, American Airlines (AA/USA) has dropped all 30 B717-200 inherited from Trans World Airlines –TWA (TW/USA). Newer rumours suggest Boeing is attempting a last rescue attempt for the 717 by proposing the 75/80-seat B717-100 and 130-seat B717-300 to airlines, including Lufthansa, Air Canada and SAS.
.8 ARJ21 – Advanced Regional Jet 21 century
The ARJ21 is a conventional design which was unveiled for the first time at the Bejing Air Show 2001 as a 79- to 99-seat RJ
with service entry scheduled for mid-2006. The project got its go-ahead in 2002 with first flight scheduled for 2005 with initial funding of 600 Mio US$ being released. The 0.78 Mach fast plane will be powered by the CF34-10A (18,500 lb), and has a range of 1,200 nm. Rockwell will deliver the avionics, the super-critical wing will be produced by Antonov, assembly will be supervised by AVIC I. To date no customers have signed for the plane.
Please note that the copyright for this belongs to me and nobody else. If you have any comments and/or suggestions please do not hesitate to write them.
Flown: A319/320/321,A332/3,A343/346, A380,AT4,AT7,B732/3/4/5/7/8/9,B742/4,B762/763,B772/77W,CR2/7/9/K,ER3/4,E70/75/90/95, F50/70/100,M11,L15,SF3,S20, AR8/1, 142/143,...