Manufactured by Bombardier of Canada, the CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet 700) series of aircraft is based on a design of their earlier series, the CRJ 100 and CRJ 200.
In the early 1990s, Bombardier saw there was a market opportunity for a larger version of their current CRJ series. This 60 – 100 seat section of the market was currently being dominated by the BAe 146, Embraer E-Jets and the Fokker 70/100. Studies showed that there was a potential market for around 5,500 aircraft in this class over the period 2018 to 2037.
In 1994 Bombardier, started looking at design options to enable them to have an offering in the 60 to 100 seat market. The obvious and most cost-effective solution would be to build on working technology they already had and avoid having to redesign the wheel, as it were.
The design, compared to the existing CRJ100 and CRJ200, would have a longer fuselage, greater wing-span, more powerful General Electric CF34-8C engines, wing leading edge extensions and high lift slats. The horizontal empennage would be wider and for passenger comfort, the cabin floor would be lowered by two inches. This gave the dual benefit of more headroom while standing, as well as the windows being higher, closer to eye level.
In March 1995 some testing of the design was carried out. This included low-speed wind-tunnel testing. This testing revealed that a range of 2,830Km (1,530nm) could be expected for the 74 seat North American version and 2,350Km(1,269nm) for the 72 seat European version. At the time of this testing, Bombardier was working toward the first deliveries commencing before the end of the century, in 1999. To achieve this, the estimated development cost, at that stage, would be around C$300M (US$200M).
In May of 1996, General Electric launched the development of the CF34-8C jet engine, which was to be a more powerful engine required for the CRJ 700. In June of that year, Bombardier chose the Rockwell Collins, Pro Line 4 avionics suite to power the flight deck of the new model.
In September of 1996, the board of Bombardier official signed off authority to begin offering for sale, the new CRJ version, the CRJ-X. It was officially launched in January 1997.
Bombardier’s existing CRJ 100/200 plant was not large enough to accommodate additional space required for the CRJ 700, so a new plant was established at Montréal-Mirabel International Airport.
Retaining only 15% of the original CRJ100/200 airframe, the CRJ 700 received its type certification from Transport Canada in January 2001 and a few months later in May of the same year, the FAA of the U.S.A. were ready to award certification. The U.S. certification was delayed for a short period while two minor changes to avionics were made before the CRJ was able to overfly U.S. airspace.
The Bombardier CRJ 700 entered commercial service that same year with Brit Air.
Up to the end of 1999, Bombardier had sunk C$650M (US$440M) into the CRJ700, 70 seat model. It was time to move it to the next level. Looking to address the rest of the 60-100 market, Bombardier was ready to sink a further C$200M (US$135M) into the project. The model, which was designated CRJ 900, began testing in October 2000. The original prototype for the CRJ 700 was reconfigured by adding fuselage plugs in front and behind the wings to begin testing. Another purpose-built CRJ 900 was soon added to enable the certification testing to be carried out. The maiden flight of the CRJ 900 was achieved five months ahead of schedule on 21 February 2001.
To round off the series, a 100 seat model was launched on 19 February 2007. Originally designated the CRJ 900X, but later given its own designation of CRJ 1000, the aircraft made its first production flight on 28 July 2008. A rudder control fault was discovered a month later causing the aircraft to be grounded pending investigation. In February 2010 the program resumed and in November of that year, Transport Canada and E.A.S.A. (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) awarded type certification. The launch customers, Air Nostrum and Brit Air started receiving deliveries on 14 December. The F.A.A. awarded type certification for the CRJ 1000 on 23 December 2010.
Bombardier now had the 60-100 seat market covered with the CRJ700, CRJ900 and CRJ1000. In addition to these variants, there were two other specialised variants built. The CRJ550, which was launched as recently as 06 February 2019, was sourced from existing CRJ700 airframes and configured with 50 seats in 3 classes, 10 first-class, 20 Economy Plus class and 20 economy class. This aircraft was offered to comply with the U.S. Pilots Contract Scope and on 07 August 2019 United Airlines received the first of 50 they had ordered.
The Pilot Contract Scope Agreement between pilots and Air Canada dictated that pilots flying flights on behalf of Air Canada Express could carry a maximum of 75 passengers. To this end, Bombardier offered the CRJ705 which was essentially a CRJ700 based on the CRJ900 airframe. It offered a mixed business class economy class cabin with 10 business/executive class seats and 65 economy seats. This variant was launched in 2005 by Air Canada Jazz with every seat having audio/video on demand.
To keep the CRJ series relevant and modernised, in 2007 Bombardier launched the NextGen program. This involved some aerodynamic changes which improved fuel economy by 5.5% and cabin upgrades common across all three variants.
Once again in 2016 Bombardier entered another modernisation phase for the CRJ. Responding to modern trends of passengers taking their luggage as carry on rather than checked luggage, the CRJ was fitted with larger luggage bins as well as a larger entryway to alleviate congestion. The cabin was further updated with larger windows which were set higher on the fuselage which put them closer to passenger eye height. Larger toilets were also fitted as well as more up to date lighting. Overall improvements allowed the maintenance periods to be extended. An A check could now be carried out up to 800 flying hour intervals and the C check up to 8,000-hour intervals.
According to information provided by Bombardier in 2015, the CRJ series of jets accounted for 20% of all jet departures in North America. World wide, they accounted for 200,000 departures per month. It seems they have read the market correctly and found a niche that has worked very well for them.
So where next for Bombardier and the CRJ? Well, surprisingly it seems that they want to exit the commercial jet airliner market. Maybe not so surprisingly, as they have already divested themselves of the Q Series (Dash 8) turboprop airliner to Viking Air and the C Series of jet airliners to Airbus which is now marketed as the Airbus A220. The CRJ is no different.
The Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation of Japan has expressed interest over the years of becoming involved in the CRJ program. On 25 June 2019, a deal was formally signed where that company would take over ownership, production and responsibility for the CRJ series of jets. The deal is expected to be completed by early 2020. As a result of this agreement, Bombardier has ceased sales of the CRJ. The Mirabel plant will remain open until such time as the current sales backlog has been cleared.
Bombardier CRJ 700 / 900 / 1000 Specs.
|Bombardier||CRJ 700||CRJ 900||CRJ 1000|
|First Flight||27 May 1999||21 February 2001||28 July 2009|
|Width(Fuselage)||2.7 Metres (8 Feet 10 Inches)|
|Cabin Width||2.55 Metres (8 Feet 4.5 Inches)|
|Cabin Height||1.89 Metres (6 Feet 2.4 Inches)|
|Aircraft Length||32.3 M (106 F 1 I)||36.2 M (118 F 11 I)||39.1 M (128 F 5 I)|
|Tail Height||7.57 M (24 F 10 I)||7.50 M (24 F 7 I)||7.47 M (24 F 6 I)|
|Main Wing Span||23.2 M (76 F 3 I)||24.9 M (81 F 7 I)||26.2 M (85 F 11 I)|
|Main Wing Area||70.6 M2 (760 F2)||71.1 M2 (765 F2)||77.4 M2 (833 F2)|
|MTOW||34,019 Kg (75,000 lb)||38,330 Kg (84,500 lb)||41,640 Kg (91,800 lb)|
|OEW||20,069 Kg (44,245 lb)||21,845 Kg (48,160 lb)||23,188 Kg (51,120 lb)|
|Maximum Payload||8,190 Kg (18,055 lb)||10,247 Kg (22,590 lb)||11,966 Kg (26,380 lb)|
|Takeoff Dist.||1,605 M (5,265 ft)||1,939 M (6,360 ft)||2,120 M (6,955 ft)|
|Landing Dist.||1,536 M (5,040 F)||1,632 M (5,355 F)||1,750 M (5,740 F)|
|Fuel Capacity||11,728 Litres (3,098 US Gallons) Longer range option (12,901 Litres (3,408 US Gallons))|
|Engines x 2||GE CF34-8C5B1||GE CF34-8C5||GE CF34-8C5A1|
|Engine Thrust x 2||61.3 kN (13,790 lbf)||64.5 kN (14,510 lbf)|
|Speed (Cruise)||Mach 0.78 (474 kn / 829 km/h)|
|Speed (Maximum)||Mach 0.825 (473 kn / 876 km/h)||Mach 0.82 (470 kn / 871 km/h)|
|Service Ceiling||41,000 Feet (12,479 Metres)|
|Range||2,553 Km(1,378 nm)||2,876 Km(1,553 nm)||3,004 Km(1,622 nm)|