ISTAT Europe 2016: Regional aircraft market

By Bjorn Fehrm

September 26, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: We are reporting from ISTAT (International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading) 2016 in Barcelona. The regional aircraft panel, discussing the future for the regional aircraft market, featured Embraer, Bombardier, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation and Superjet International, presenting the strengths of their offerings and why they would have a good future share of the market.

Here’s what was presented:Bombardier
Ross Mitchell, VP Commercial Operations, stressed the in service qualities of their long-time CRJ models. He showed that Bombardier has more current-model aircraft operating in the market than the competition, with only 13 aircraft not flying. He contrasted that with Embraer’s E-Jet which has 77 aircraft parked at the moment.

He said that with the CRJ having the lowest operating costs in the market and an in-service reliability of 99.6%. He said that the CRJ models received an interior upgrade that will keep it attractive in the market going forward. Its bins will now accept roller bags and the cabin has got a more airy feeling.

The Q400 has the most aircraft in the turboprop market with 36% market share of a market of 2,550 aircraft. Mitchell also stressed the flexibility of the Q400, where its speed can make it cover both a turboprop and a jet network need. The Q400 is also the highest capacity turboprop in the market with 90 seats. The operating costs have recently been improved with the flight line maintenance cycle moving to 800 Flight Hours and base checks to 8,000 Flight Hours.

The CS300 competes in a 125-150 seat aircraft segment with a market potential of 4,400 aircraft with only 756 sold so far. The philosophy of the CSeries is to offer the same seat costs as a narrow body aircraft (Boeing 737 MAX 7, Airbus A319neo) but with a lower risk due to lower trip costs.

Compared to the single aisle competitors, it offers better passenger comfort by offering wider seats with up to 19-inch seat width for the middle seat and a wider aisles where a passenger can pass an attendant with a serving trolley.

Mitchell clarified Bombardier’s CSeries delivery plan. It will build seven aircraft instead 15 this year due to delivery delays with the Pratt & Whitney GTF engine.

E-Jet E2
Rodrigo Souza, VP Marketing, emphasized that Embraer dominates the market of 70-130 seats, with its E-Jet having 50% of orders and 60% of deliveries in this segment. There are more than 100 operators which have flown 15 million flight hours in E-Jets.

Consequently the E-Jet E2 has had a very strong reception. It has grown in orders twice as fast as the original E-Jet and also twice as fast as its direct competition. It now has 272 orders and in total 670 orders/commitments.

Souza then told that the E195-E2 will have the same empty weight as the CS100 but will have 10% more seats. This will give the aircraft a 10% advantage in seat mile based operating economics.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (MAC)
Gregory W. Alberts, Senior Vice President Leasing & Asset Management, brought an update on the MRJ90 program. MAC now has all five test aircraft on the test flight line with the fourth aircraft taking to the air in the last days. Alberts expects four of these aircraft to be in the US flight test base at Moses Lake (WA) before the end of 2016. The fifth aircraft will stay in Nagoya doing its flight tests there.

The MRJ90 now has 427 aircraft on order or option. Around 300 of those orders/options are with customers that are flying for US mainline airlines which have scope clause pilot union agreements that only allow the regional operator to fly aircraft which have Max Take-Off Weight less than 86,000lb. With the MRJ90 exceeding that, Alberts stated that MAC will work with its customers to solve any scope clause problems at time of delivery in 2018.

Superjet International:
Carmine Russo, Superjet International head of Marketing and Sales engineering, went into why the SSJ100 is the optimal 100 seat regional aircraft. The aircraft has been designed as a 100-seater from the beginning, which is why it has a five abreast cabin.

It was also designed with 18 inch seats and a 20 inch aisle. The comfortable cabin has scored highly with passengers, he said. The new 120-seat variant shall be seen as a logical extension from this original design point and will therefore keep the good characteristics of the original aircraft.

Russo finalized the presentation with a testimonial from their first European customer, Cityjet, which has agreed to take 15 SSJ100 on lease.

John Moore, Head of Global Sales, said that ATR is dominating the regional turboprop market with a 70% market share. ATR’s backlog of aircraft to be delivered is 200 aircraft compared to less than a quarter of this for its main competitor. Turboprops have increased the typical network range where they are the best choice in recent years, from 250nm to over 300nm, even with today’s low fuel prices.

ATR presently has 200 airline customers in 100 countries. This customer base is actually larger then the 737 customer base and only slightly smaller than base for the A320. The major future growth for turboprops will come from markets like India, Indonesia and Brasil where the emerging 3rd tier regional network with a 20% passenger growth year over year, can only be served with turboprops.

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