BRJ-X (Bombardier Regional Jet eXpansion)
Bombardier announced in mid-2000 that it was suspending development of the proposed BRJ-X twin-turbofan regional airliner following market evaluation studies. Bombardier postponed indefinitely development of its 110-seat BRJ-X, due in part to current commitments and the significant presence of Boeing and Airbus in this market segment. Observers had seriously question the wisdom of Bombardier's quest to go up against Airbus (A318) and Boeing (717), particularly when both have such a head start on Bombardier.
Bombardier's effort to enter the 100+ seat market started when it considered purchasing Fokker whenr that company encountered financial problems. Bombardier then announced plans to develop a 90-seat RJ at the September 1998 Farnborough Air Show, and the company planned to make a go/no-go launch decision in late 1999. At that time, the manufacturer was planning a 36-month development period leading to certification in 2003. Designated BRJ-X, the aircraft would be an all-new design with a fuselage cross section of 128 inches, five-abreast seating, and two underwing-mounted engines in the 20,000 lbst power class. Bombardier saw the proposed type as slotting in between the 70-seat RJs and the new 100-seat Airbus A318 and Boeing 717-200 models. The Canadian manufacturer was also planning to develop a stretched BRJ-X-110 variant from the baseline design.
The proposed BRJ-X would have been the largest offering in Bombardier's stable of commercial regional aircraft, then comprised of the 37-78 seat Q Series Dash 8 turboprop family and the 50-70 seat family of Canadair Regional Jet aircraft.
Bombardier had identified a gap in aircraft capacity in the 80 to 110 seat range and forecast a requirement for 2,500 aircraft over a 20-year delivery period. The BRJ-X Series would fit between the smaller 50 to 70 seat Canadair Regional Jet family and larger 111 - 170 seat mainline jet aircraft. The BRJ-X family of aircraft was to be designed to have the lowest possible operating costs in terms of fuel, crew, maintenance and ownership. Acquisition and ownership costs of these larger regional jets must be kept low since regional airlines are the low-cost producers in the airline industry.
Fourteen airlines from seven countries attended the first BRJ-X Airline Advisory Council convened in Montréal in late 1998 by Bombardier Aerospace. The council is an integral part of the market evaluation process for Bombardier's proposed five-abreast, 90-seat class, BRJ-X Series of regional jet aircraft. The formal Airline Advisory Council consultation process could lead to a decision to proceed with the new class of aircraft next year. The council will continue to meet throughout the full development cycle of the aircraft. Type certification and first delivery would be late 2003.
BRJ-X was to feature an all-new airfoil mated to a fuselage with a cross section of 128 inches. Baseline model seating 90 and offering range of 1,500 nautical miles. Optional fuel packages would extend range to 2,475 nautical miles. Seating would be five-abreast in a "double-bubble" fuselage cross section 3.26 meters (10.75 ft) wide. Advanced turbofans in 20,000 lbst class would be underwing mounted. Prior to shelving the 90-seat BRJ-X, no clear favorite was apparent among the BMW Rolls-Royce BR715, CFM56-9, and the Pratt & Whitney PW6000.
In late 1999, however, the Canadian manufacturer switched horses, offering instead to stretch its 70-seat CRJ 700 to seat 90 passengers. Bombardier's strategy was to get a 90-seater into service a year or more before rivals Embraer and Fairchild can field a comparable model. Bombardier basically shelved the 90-seat BRJ-X in 1999 in favor of the CRJ 900. The latter was to be a stretched, 90-passenger derivative of the Canadian manufacturer's 70-seat CRJ 700. The original BRJ-X evolved into a 100- to 120-seater that can be offered as a replacement for the aging BAe 146, Fokker 100, and DC-9.
In early 2000 Bombardier Aerospace continued to work in close co-operation with some of the world's major airlines to ensure that the final design of the proposed BRJ-X twinjet airliner will meet the technological and operational challenges airlines will be facing as we enter the new century. In response to airline requirements, Bombardier settled on a baseline configuration of 108 seats in a five-abreast, two-class configuration: a BRJ-X-110 with a range of 1,800 nm (3 331 km) and a BRJ-X-110ER with uprated engines, strengthened fuselage and a range of 2,400 nm (4 441 km). While the two-class configuration is the baseline, the BRJ-X cabin will have the flexibility to accommodate from 100 to 115 seats, including a three-class interior with First, Super Club and standard Economy or Coach seating. Wheelchair access to the lavatories can be accommodated. Three engines were being evaluated, variants of the General Electric/Snecma CFM 56, BMW/Rolls-Royce BR715 and Pratt & Whitney PW6000. Thrust requirements are 20,000 to 22,000 pounds (88.96 to 97.86 kN) class.
Official launch of the BRJ-X program was targeted for the 4th quarter of 2000, followed by first flight in the 1st quarter of 2003, Transport Canada type certification in the 2nd quarter of 2004, and first deliveries in the 3rd quarter of that year.
The BRJ-X-110 was well received by airlines as a 'true 100-seater', not a scaled-down version of a larger jet. Recognizing that the proposed BRJ-X will be operating in an increasingly denser traffic environment, Bombardier Aerospace was concentrating on providing a cockpit that introduces state-of-the-art automation and flight displays while keeping pilots constantly in the "loop." A major goal is reduced flight deck workload in all flight regimes, but most importantly below 10,000 feet (3 048 m) in crowded terminal areas. The flight deck automation concept stresses safety as the first and foremost consideration. Other important factors are: transparency, with the pilots able to observe and foresee aircraft behavior; compatibility with flight desk tasks; integration of human-machine interface components; consistency, to reduce the possibility of errors and make the system simple to use and learn; and conciseness, a minimum number of steps required for a given procedure and straightforward and intuitive procedures.
To help accomplish these goals, engineers are making use of larger displays, graphics to replace textual data, and interactive displays and pointing systems. As a result, effective crew co-ordination will be eased in the increasingly more congested communications, navigation, surveillance (CNS) and air traffic management (ATM) environment in which the BRJ-X will operate. After further input from airlines, Bombardier evaluated fly-by-wire (FBW) control systems among the BRJ-X configuration studies. Ongoing evaluations will lead to a definition of Bombardier's preferred architecture for the system, i.e. whether the aircraft will have a conventional control column or a sidestick controller.
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