eugdjinn wrote:How about this for a radical answer: BBD or a clever successor should hold onto the program and then REWING and SHORTEN the 900s to create more 700s
Shocked? Here's the business case: In the US, scope is pretty well a done deal and will hold, at 76 seats max. And in that market, while the 900 may be cheaper to operate than the E175, all three mainlines and even Alaska have chosen the E175 (E1), pretty resoundingly. While there are a few more top off orders for the 900 left to be built, the writing is, sadly, on the wall.
However, the wing spar that once limited the life of the 700 to 20 years give or take can now have a plate added and with regular C-checks allow the frame to fly on for 40+ years - a serious service life. Which means there is money to be made supporting it, provided there are enough in service.... Clearly scope clauses aren't going to allow all of the 900s to fly alongside 175s though and its time to plan a way for them to have that new life.
And here's where it gets fun; United now thinks they want to make 50 seat aircraft out of 700 frames, the newly floated CRJ 550 - a one flight attendant 10 biz seat, 20 econ plus, 20 steerage version - which, is, I'll grant, clever. (When SkyWest took their first 700 someone told me the difference in operating cost between a 200 and a 700 was in essence the cost of the second flight attendant.) Couple that with the AA scope contract where every single 50 seat and 44 seat aircraft can be replaced with a 65-seat configured 700 at no penalty and its clear that the best option available to Doug & Co. is to lay their hands on every 700 frame on earth and install the 'Atmosphere' cabin if it proves itself capable of ending valet checks... and park the 200s and the 140/145 post haste!
According to Wikipedia (o.k. - take it with a grain of salt) there are only 330 700s in the world. But with some 489 900 frames built and more on order, that makes the potential value in the US market of a program to pull a 900 apart, shorten the fuselage plugs that made her a 900 and not a 700, and give her 700 wings a possibly viable program. As I understand it, the engines are the same for the later 700 series and while there are other control differences... recreating her as a 750 might be a worthwhile endeavor. I would leave a little more length in front to keep the forward lavatory, and in back to give a Crew bag closet, and do a slight expansion of the 700 galley so that meals are easily accommodated. That said, I think it has the potential to provide a continuing revenue stream in the secondary market and a real way forward as we look at how to see small cities/markets get served in the future, without cutting frequency by instantly forcing them to mainline aircraft only.
Would it work?
Hard to say the big 3 have chosen the 175 overwhelmingly. Delta Connection has ~125 E-Jets (170/175) and ~200 2 class CRJ's. It would not surprise me to see Delta order 20-25 brand new 900's to replace older 700's in the near future as well. Only UA & AS heavily favors the 175 over the CRJ9.