Figure 1 shows the main characteristics of the MRJ90 and the CRJ900 as presented in our previous article.
The main difference is the MRJ’s more advanced wing with higher aspect ratio and engines which are one generation further ahead than the CRJ’s GE CF34 engines. The geared turbofan engines from Pratt & Whitney (PW) are 15% more efficient than GE’s direct fan drive CF34 engines.
We will now investigate what influence this will have for the fuel consumption over a couple of typical regional routes.
Figure 2 shows the fuel costs when we fly the aircraft over an air distance of 500nm and 1,000nm, typical regional jet distances. The MRJ90 consumes around 15% less fuel than the CRJ900 with the lighter CRJ being 1.6% more competitive on the shorter range.
We have assumed a fuel price of $2.00 per US Gallon longer term for the analysis; it is presently at around $1.60. To get a grip on how much cheaper the CRJ900 has to be sold we did a simplified Cash and Direct Operating Cost analysis.
We assumed similar crew and maintenance costs for the aircraft. The higher weights of the MRJ will cause the en route and landing fees to be higher. This is what diminishes the advantage of the MRJ on the Cash operating cost level.
Finally, we checked how much lower a net price for a CRJ900 has to be to make the Direct Operating Costs equal. Present list prices are $47.5m for CRJ900 and $45m for MRJ90. BBD would have to discount the CRJ to approximately $2m lower than the net price of an MRJ to compensate the lower fuel consumption of the MRJ.
The CRJ900 and the E-Jet 170/175 are the present regional jets which are most common in regional airlines operating on behalf of Mainline carriers on their feeder networks. Both aircraft can comply with the Scope Clauses the carriers have with their pilots, thus making these models acceptable for such operation.
The MRJ90 is preparing to take over this role should the scope clauses be adjusted upwards. Its main attraction is a 15% lower fuel consumption on typical regional routes. To compensate this advantage BBD would have to lower the capital cost of a CRJ900 for a customer airline with around $2m. This is valid as long as the fuel price stays around or below $2.00 per US Gallon.