A friend of mine is an AA
pilot, and according to him, AA
has been looking at the big Embrears for mainline.
The original plan was to replace the F100s with 737-600s, but the -600 is not well suited for the routes that the F100 flies.
The reason that AA
returned the 717 was that it didn't need 2 aircraft types that seated 100 passengers. That had been the plan prior to September 11th. Unfortunately, the downturn in the airline business has pushed AA
to retire the Fokkers early. They had been slated for retirement around 2010.
The 717 makes sense, since MD
-80 pilots could also fly the 717. But, the oldest MD
-80s turn 21 years old in 2004. AA
will starting planning its gradual retirement, probably within 5 to 7 years. The logical replacement is the 737-700. That would make the 717 a small fleet, just like the Fokker.
Since Eagle flies the smaller Embrears, the large ones are possible. I still think AA
might convince Boeing to do some redesigning of the -600, to make it better suited for short to medium-haul flights.