Archive for the 'Regional Jet' Category

Canadair Regional Jet CRJ 1000 Takes First Flight

With all the news about delayed airliner programmes such as the Airbus A380, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, or even the Sukhoi Superjet, it is good news that a new aircraft type has taken to the skies for the first time yesterday, from Montreal Mirabel in Canada: Bombarider’s CRJ 1000. (To see clearly, we have to mention that this is not a completely new aircraft as those mentioned above, it is the extended version of the operational CRJ-900 regional jet.)

CRJ-1000 Next Gen Prototype - c by Justin Jones at airliners.net

CRJ-1000 Next Gen Prototype - c by Justin Jones at airliners.net

The prototype flew a 3 hr. 25 min. first flight, reaching a maximum speed of 260 kt. and an altitude of 30,000 ft.

We put the gear up, operated the flaps and slats and exercised our fly-by-wire rudder,” pilot Jacques Thibaudeau said. “The aircraft handled similarly to the smaller CRJ900 airliner so flight crews will not have a problem transitioning.

Bombardier launched the (86-)100-seat CRJ1000 program in early 2007 and has tallied 63 firm orders, with first delivery slated for the 2009 fourth quarter. The prototype will make a few more flights from Mirabel and then head to Wichita for further testing in preparation for review by Transport Canada, US FAA and EASA.

The 1000 is 3 m longer than the CRJ-900 with an Maximum Take Off Weight of 91,800 lb and a range of 1,610 nautical miles.

(based on ATW News)

by balint01

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Sukhoi Superjet: First Flight

We have followed eariler developments around the Sukhoi Superjet for some time now, and there are good news following the on-time roll-out last year and the delay announced earlier in 2008. Yes, the Sukhoi Superjet has flown for the first time, more than a month ago by now, actually.

Sukhoi SuperJet landing after first flight - C by KNAAPO

Picture posted by EYKD on the Airliners.net forum.

It’s interesting to learn how many and what kind of stages of testing take place before the first flight. Sukhoi went through its first taxi and run tests of the new regional aircraft, where the run tests featured a gradual speed increase up to 162 kph, which is close the actual speed required for takeoff. Chief Test Pilot Alexander Yablontsev said the aircraft “is easy to control and very good in ergonomics.” The testing was performed at the Flight Test Center in Komsomolsk, where a series of ground tests of the main systems with running engines have been also conducted. Prior to the first flight, the aircraft also undergone shimmy tests, low and high speed taxi runs to test the landing gear stability and high-speed runs to check steering and brakes, with liftoff of the nose gear.

Sukhoi SuperJet during test taxi runs - C by TIKHV

Falling 6 months behind Sukhoi’s original plan to fly the SuperJet at the end of 2007, the new airplane finally took to the skies on 20MAY2008, for about 40 minutes, performing 4 circuits around the airfield at various altitudes, reaching up to 1,200 m.

The first flight should boost interest and marketing image for the aircraft but there are still no news about any new confirmed Western customers.

by balint01

Sukhoi Superjet Also Delayed

It seems like no new aircraft in the 21st century can be developed according to the first announced schedules. Following the almost 2 year delay of the Airbus A380 superjumbo which had wiring problems and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which is facing a still growing delay due to supply chain problems in the production of the composite airframe (originally it was planned to be delivered in about two months to its launch customer – but still has not ever taken off…) here are the latest news about the Russian Sukhoi Superjet being delayed…

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed - by Reuters

As we reported earlier, the Sukhoi Superjet was revealed on 26SEP2007, when they claimed the rolled out aircraft was basically ready to fly about two months later. Back then on the ceremony it was announced that “the first flight will take place before the year end,” and they have also pointed out that they are on schedule, unlike the above mentioned A380 or the 787… Then came the news yesterday, that the Russian manufacturer announced: “Technical problems will postpone delivery of the first Sukhoi Superjet indefinitely.”

First deliveries to launch customer Aeroflot originally were slated to begin by late 2008. Aeroflot has already removed the Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft from service to make room for the first SSJ’s to arrive which are due to replace the aging mid-sized airplane. “The airplane is currently in the final testing stages and it will make its first flight within a month,” Alexei Fyodorov, CEO of United Aircraft Building Corp., told RIA Novosti. “Our specialists are working round the clock to meet our obligations to contractors.” We can only hope that this “within a month” will now be real, as it is crucial for the SSJ to show a positive image to the World Market, that it plans to conquer. Airbus and Boeing are stronger and larger players to manage such delays, but for Sukhoi being a new entrant, it is very important to show professionalism to its (future) customers. To date, the 78 and 98 seat version aircraft has collected 73 firm orders and 46 options, mostly from Russian customers.

If we think about it a little more, these delays even sound understandable, as the aircraft market today sells planes for deliveries in 5-6 or even more years down the road. All manufacturers are therefore pressured to announce a new plane as soon as possible with as soon delivery dates as possible, in order to not lose possible customers. If you announce a certain date and then are forced to pay a penalty, it’s still better than losing the whole business to another plane which is already on the market, or has promised an even earlier delivery date… This way at least you do have the business. Tough competition and not normal market conditions have led to this stage, but it’s the airline customers that go into a more and more uncertain future with such an emerging tendency. They need to plan fleet strategies, networks and even schedules ahead – when counting with the new airplanes which are then delivered only a few years late…

It will be interesting to follow the developments of the new Chinese Regional Jet, the Japanese Mitsubishi Regional Jet as well as the new Bombardier C-Ceries – will they be on schedule with their new programs or can we make a new rule: “New Aircraft development projects in the 21st century are always behind schedule”?

by balint01

Flight Review: AirTran Airways

AirTran Logo 

Route: Atlanta, GA – Dayton, OH – Atlanta, GA
Operating Airlines: AirTran Airways
Travel Date: 30NOV2007 and 02DEC2007

Ticket Purchase

I have bought the ticket through www.airtran.com. The website is very simple, and thus very easy to use, very understandable, clear. It shows you all available fares in a very simple table with all flight details being displayed in small pop-up dialog windows. It is clear which flight is nonstop, and which ones involve a transfer. What is a nice feature that I have not seen before at other airlines’ sites, is that you can have a printer friendly version of the flight search results. So you can print your options and discuss it with somebody or attach it to a business trip plan, etc. Very handy, as mostly you end up with complicated, colorful search results which you can scroll for minutes and may be printed on four pages which then you have to somehow compile to see the actual information. This is a nice added value feature! After selecting your flights you get an overview, that includes the most important fare rules, terms and conditions, check-in information, and the option to add your a+ rewards number (frequent flier program of AirTran) as well to book a trip protection insurance. You also have the option to secure your seat when booking, which is at extra cost, but at an acceptable level I think. I chose 17F for both of my flights for an extra USD 5 for each flight, but could have chosen emergency exit seats with extra leg room for USD 20/flight. You can of course pay by credit card, but you can also use your PayPal account, with BillMeLater or with CheckFree account. In the last step you confirm your payment details and recieve a confirmation mail afterwards.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions 

There is no option to offset your carbon emissions on this website.

Check-In

I wasn’t worried about check-in at all, as I had pre-selected my seat, I knew I will have a window seat, still I received a mail 24 hours before the first flight that check-in is now available. I went ahead and checked in, where I could select another seat. (Actually on the way back I did so, as 17F didn’t have enough legroom due to some wiring at the bottom of the previous seat.) Online check-in at the website is also straight forward, and fast. You have other choices to check-in, such as the Bye-Pass Check-in kiosks at the airport, and you can also drop your luggage off at the sidewalk check-in areas at the Atlanta Airport so you don’t even have to carry your luggage in the terminal building, they take it away from your right where the taxi can drop you off.

AiTran B717 in Atlanta, GA, USA (by balint01)

1. ATLANTA, GA – DAYTON, OH (FL 702)

Aircraft: Boeing 717-200 (N923AT), relatively new aircraft operated by AirTran Airways – with special sticker: 100th Boeing Delivery
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived at about the right time.
Boarding: Was very efficient, due to the boarding zones -printed on the boarding card- called one by one.
Seats: Comfortable, but not wide enough seats, with small legroom (especially as the bottom of the previous seat had extra wiring)
Flight Attendants: There were 3 of them, they were average looking, all of them seemed friendly.
Meals: Everybody is asked if they want snacks (small pack of pretzels) and a glass of soft drink (Coca-Cola products). For USD 5 you can also get beer, wine, shots or mini-cocktails. In business class these are included in the ticket prize for economy, you may pay onboard, or while checking in on the ByePass Kiosks before your flight, which would give you vouchers.
Entertainment: Free Satellite XM radio with optional headsets (but you can use your own, too) and on-board magazine: Go. Huge SkyMall catalog

2. DAYTON, OH – ATLANTA, GA (FL 414)

Aircraft: Boeing 717-200 (N-963AT), aircraft operated by AirTran Airways
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off exactly on time, arrived 10 minutes late.
Boarding: Dayton airport was deserted on this Sunday night, no lines to que, just walk-through to the gate. Same zoned boarding used as in Atlanta, due to the low number of people plane was boarded very quickly.
Seats: As my seat was on the left side of the plane where you only have two seats, it felt a little bit more comfortable. I had a bigger guy sitting next to me, but as soon as doors were closed, he moved elsewhere, so we were both more comfortable.
Flight Attendants: There were 3 of them, average.
Meals: Same small pack of pretzels, same soft drinks as on the outbound flight.
Entertainment: Free XM satellite radio at every seat.

Overall Experience

AirTran just does what air travel is basically about: Takes you from point A to point B. Considered as a low-cost, it still offers free drinks on board which is nice, and I also liked the XM satellite radio. Other than that it does nothing more, nothing less. It’s good value for your money with efficient procedures (online booking, online check-in, efficient boarding). I paid USD 248 for my return ticket, and if I will ever visit my American families in Ohio from Atlanta again, I would take this flight once more.

by balint01

Dubai Air Show Orders I.

On the first day of the 2007 Dubai Air Show great orders were revealed, and there are three more days to go…

Emirates Logo   Emirates Airbues A380

Emirates have voted for Airbus, by placing the largest order to date for the new Airbus A350, by 70 pieces. They took option on an additional 50, while added 11 A380 to the already largest fleet of A380’s to raise the total number to be operated by the airline to 66 (47 original orders + 8 commitments earlier this year, and the 11 yesterday). If they take all of their options on the A350’s, Emirates would operate a 186 piece modern Airbus fleet by the end of the next decade (!). By selecting the A350 over the Boeing B787 Emirates gave a boost to the new Airbus program. Probably to bridge the time before the A350’s arrive, they also placed an order with Boeing for 12 long-range 777-300ER’s.

Qatar Airways Logo  Qatar Airways on the other hand selected Boeing with placing firm orders for 30 B787 Dreamliners with options for another 30, while buying 27 B777’s as well, with 5 options. This is a total of 57 firm + 35 optional orders.

Virgin Nigeria Logo  Virgin Nigeria ordered 10 Embraer jets. The order consists of 7 E170 and 3 of the larger E190, with options for 6 more E190 regional jets.

The show goes on until Thursday and will display daily flights of the A380.

by balint01

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed

As we have promised in our previous article on the Sukhoi Superjet we are here to inform you about the rollout of the first Sukhoi Superjet 100 which is ready to fly. The ceremony took place earlier today in Russia’s Far East, where part of Sukhoi’s massive Komsomolsk plant has been converted from sleek fighter jet production to civilian use with a target of 5-6 airliners a month by 2010. This is the first rollout of a new Russian passenger airplane since the Soviet Union collapsed, and thus marked as a historical event in Russia. The city of Komsomolsk was once sealed off from the world, as a nerve centre of Soviet submarine and fighter production. Now it will be revitalized in a real international way, with the help of this new production line.

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed - by Reuters

The Sukhoi Superjet is the first regional jet to be unveiled in the 21st century, and is claimed to be the most efficient and most environmentally friendly jet in its category on the market (78-98 passengers). The rollout ceremony was attended by representatives of three participating countries: Russia, France and Italy. Mikhail Pogosyan, Sukhoi Company’s CEO, said: “Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a child of thousands of people around the globe, committed to the project success with their hearts and souls. It took us all six and a half years to get here, overcoming skepticism and finding our way in translation of international rules of play to Russian aerospace industry and incorporating world industry standards in it. Have a look at the aircraft – I’m sure, it was worth it.

The revealed aircraft airframe is basically ready for the flight tests: the fuselage, the wings and the engines are attached together, all the major systems are built-in, the avionics blocks installation is under completion while the pilot cockpit already holds all panels, indicators, side-sticks, thrust levers and pedals. In the coming two months the aircraft is due to be ready for flight tests, but during that time, the static tests being performed in TsAGI (Zhukovsky) should be completed. Among the most important strategic partners of Sukhoi in this project are: Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company and Boeing (fulfilling a consultant role since the launch of the program).

Russia aims to secure at least 10% of the world airliner market with the new passenger jets and to take third place among aircraft-producing countries by 2015-2018.

As Reuters reported, while targeting the world market, the Superjet will replace Russia’s fast ageing Soviet-made fleet of Tupolev Tu-134 and Yakovlev Yak-42 planes on domestic routes with a longer range of 4,550 km (2800 miles). Having pre-sold 73 aircraft mainly to Russian airlines, it aims to lift the order book to 100 planes with a catalogue value of $2.8 billion by the end of this year, which Sukhoi hopes will include at least one more Western Operator (besides Italian ItAli Airlines with an order of 10 planes).

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed - by Reuters

Ultimately it aims to sell 1,000 planes with 700 of them going to global export markets and it hopes to get European and U.S. certification during 2008. That would put Sukhoi in direct competition with Brazil’s Embraer and Bombardier of Canada, which dominate the 70-100 seat aircraft market today. The maiden flight is expected before the end of the year, Sukhoi said and so far they have been on schedule, unlike Airbus’ A380 and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. It says the Superjet will have 10-15 percent lower operating costs than either Bombardier or Embraer models.

According to Reuters, Russian President Vladimir Putin is merging civilian and military aircraft makers into a state-controlled umbrella company called United Aviation Corporation (Ilyushin and Tupolev are already included) and hopes to rival European Airbus and US Boeing by 2025.

Sukhoi hopes the development dollars and civil technology of its outside suppliers will attract Western airlines who may otherwise be reticent about buying a Russian aircraft. It is also under-cutting rivals with a price of $28 million per plane, which is lower than a CRJ from Bombardier or an E-Jet from Embraer. But there could be other “silent” supporters of Sukhoi’s entry to the Western Airline Market, such as Mr. Boris Abramovic of AiRUnion, who has a controlling stake in Malev Hungarian Airlines as well, which operates in the EU. According to reports in the Hungarian Media today, Mr. Abramovic (present at the unveiling ceremony) has expressed at the event that Malev is already looking into the possibilty of purchasing 15 Superjets. Replacing the regional fleet of Malev with one type instead of the two types operated at the moment (Fokker-70’s and CRJ-200’s) sounds like a rational step, and knowing that AiRUnion has already ordered 15 of the smaller (75 seat) version of the SSJ-100, it forecasts that such a decision may be expected in the first half of 2008 from the Hungarian airline.

by balint01

Sukhoi Superjet On Schedule While Targeting More Western Orders

“Sukhoi does not intend to follow the example of Airbus with its A380 or Boeing with its 787 and stressed this week, that the Sukhoi Superjet (SSJ) program is proceeding according to schedule.” It is funny in a way to read such a headline, but is very understandable, knowing the well communicated years-long delay of the A380, and the recently published news about the delay of the first flight of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. If Sukhoi manages to fulfill its plan of the rollout of the 95 seat variant on 26SEP2007, it would beat Airbus, which failed the original rollout time of the A380 (the 787 has been rolled out according to plan). If they manage to conclude the first flight on time as well, they would beat Boeing, too. About first delivery they are ahead of Airbus at the moment, but we do not yet know how the 787 will be or will not be delivered to its launch customer (All Nippon Airways of Japan) on time next year.

Sukhoi Superjet 100 - by Sukhoi

In the market of regional jets (for passengers between 35-100/120) there are two major players today: Canadian Bombardier with the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) family, and Brazil’s Embraer with the E-Jet (ERJ) family (earlier British BAe and Dutch Fokker were also important part of the market, but they stopped manufacturing their jets). A new Russian contender is being developed these days: the new Sukhoi Superjet 100. It is actually not solely being developed by Sukhoi, as they are assisted by bigger Russian partner Ilyushin, US Boeing and smaller Russian Yakovlev as well. Previously the project was referred to as Russian Regional Jet (RRJ), but has been renamed to Superjet in 2006. It is interesting to see Boeing being involved in such a development, but if we consider that this way it has influence on a future player of a market where it is not represented at the moment, it makes total sense! However, Sukhoi is talking about the next version of the plane at some occasions, but it is still unknown whether if it will be a shorter (75 seat) or a stretched version. Knowing that Boeing is involved in the tpye, and that a bigger than 110 seat plane would mean a direct competition to Boeing’s 737-600NG in terms of passenger capacity, it is more likely that a shorter version will be announced (or the slightly larger 110 seater), but let’s wait and see.

To make the project more international, in the quickly developing civil aircraft arm of Russian Aeronautical Firm Sukhoi, actually the Finmeccanica Group from Italy owns 25%, and is waiting for Mr. Putin’s signature to gain one extra share, which can only be done by the special approval of the Russian President as aviation is classified as a protected industry. It is interesting to know that Finmeccanica through its subsidiary Alenia Aereonautica already owns 50% of ATR (regional turboprop powered aircraft manufacturing firm) and according to reports it’s trying to buy-out the other 50% from EADS, which is also parent of Airbus… Very interesting ties within the industry, I think.

The Superjet 100-95 is planned to be launched with Aeroflot Russian Airlines in November 2008, the largest future operator to date, with 45 firm orders. The type until now has received a total of 71 firm orders, including 10 from the first Western customer: ItAli Airlines of Italy, which was announced at the Paris Air Show earlier this year with delivery beginning in December 2008. ItAli will replace its MD-80 fleet with the Superjets, providing an example for other operators of the aging McDonnel Douglas aircraft. Superjet International – the new joint venture between Alenia Aereonautica and Sukhoi Holding focusing on worldwide after-sales support and marketing and sales of the Superjet 100 regional aircraft family in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania and Japan is targeting approximately 300 orders by 2010. This would include the above mentioned 10 by ItAli Airlines. To date besides the 71 aircraft ordered, there are 39 options in place as well. Sukhoi Chairman Viktor Subboting is confident of announcing two new orders “in the next weeks” and is planning with 100 firm orders by the end of 2007. It was also confirmed that Sukhoi is planning other versions of the Superjet, such as VIP (expecting 20 to be sold in the Russian market, and around 100 worldwide in the short-term), and Cargo configurations, for both of which the new joing venture Superjet International will be responsible. According to earlier reports in the media, there are a number of Western airlines considering the SSJ family, such as Air France, Lufthansa, SAS and Iberia. Lately we have heard of SAS coming close to finalizing an order, while Malev Hungarian Airlines also joined the list of potential customers after being bought by AirUnion, that is already holding firm orders for the aircraft. Whether if Malev would receive a few planes from the AirUnion order, or if it will place its own, separate order, is not yet known, but from a fleet management point of view, it would be logical that the planned to be extensively cooperating airlines will operate the same aircraft types as well.

But first let’s see the roll-out of the plane in less than two weeks!

by balint01


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