Aug. 21, 2018, © Airfinance Journal: Bombardier Commercial Aircraft is gradually introducing more features in its Q400 turboprop aircraft as the Canadian manufacturer continues to see appetite in the 70-90-seat market.
Improvements under development include a 2,000lb increase in payload capacity. The model’s current maximum payload is 18,716lb, while maximum take-off weight varies between 61,700lb and 67,200lb.
Other changes the manufacturer is introducing include the extension of A-check and C-check intervals from 600/6,000 to 800/8,000 flight hours, giving a 20% direct maintenance cost saving.
The manufacturer announced on 1 August that its 90-passenger Q400 aircraft configuration had received its certification from Transport Canada, becoming the first in-production commercial turboprop to reach that capacity.
The extra-capacity Q400 features 90 seats at a 28-inch pitch while the standard dual-cabin Q400 model offers 74 seats with 30- and 35-inch seat pitches. Bombardier also offers a 50-seat cargo combi turboprop with a 32-inch pitch.
But the manufacturer will start delivering a new cabin standard version with 82 seats with a 30-inch pitch in the second half of this year. The aircraft’s entry has been opened up with the removal of the starboard side-forward baggage hold, giving three extra windows and helping to reduce weight and maintenance costs. The new 82-seat configuration also includes the removal of two galleys at the back of the aircraft in favor of one large galley.
“With increasing growth in the number of passengers per departure in the turboprop market, we are excited to offer our customers a higher-capacity configuration and 15% lower cost per seat compared to the previous standard Q400, leading to more profitability potential for airlines,” said Todd Young, head of the Q series aircraft program, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.
Spicejet placed an order for up to 50 Q400s in the ‘extra-capacity’ version last autumn.
Bombardier continues to increase its footprint in the African market.
“Africa is the youngest and fastest-growing region in the world, and regional aircraft like the Q400 will play a key role in helping advancing Africa’s economic growth,” says vice-president sales Middle East & Africa Jean Paul Boutibou.
Ethiopian Airlines concluded a firm order for 10 new Q400 aircraft as well as five additional purchase rights in the second quarter, while Bombardier also signed a firm purchase agreement for six new Q400 aircraft with African Aero Trading on behalf of the consortium forming Republic of Angola Air Connection Express. The carrier will operate the Q400 domestically to connect smaller communities and increase frequencies as a regional feeder airline to TAAG Angola Airlines.
South Africa’s Cemair became a new operator of the Q400 earlier this year through the acquisition and lease of three new and pre-owned Q400s.
Congo Airways is adding up to two additional Q Series aircraft to its fleet.
Kenya’s DAC East Africa added two Q200 and one Q400 aircraft while 748 Air Services in Kenya is adding a Q400 and Q200 to its fleet.
Bombardier recently unveiled Ghana’s start up carrier Passionair as a new Q400 customer. Three 78-seat aircraft, one of which is an ex-Flybe Q400, are being placed through an operating lease contract.