India Announces Regional Jet
The regional airliner market got more interesting last week as India's government-sponsored National Aerospace Industries announced it was planning a 110- to 120-seat jet. The announcement creates a crowd in a market that doesn't seem to have many buyers at the moment. For instance, Bombardier's CSeries has but 80 orders and the Chinese, Russian and Japanese entrants are counting heavily on domestic sales to justify their development plans. Some analysts say the Indian project is as much an exercise in national pride as it is an aircraft development program and the new jet, if it's ever built, will likely find buyers only on the subcontinent. Meanwhile, the turboprop airliner market also heated up and France's ATR announced plans for a clean-sheet 90-seat turboprop twin.
That could speed up Bombardier's long-speculated stretch of the Q400 from 70 to about 90 seats. It's been pointed out that the Q400X would be a cut-and-paste version of the already-proven Q400 while ATR's is a full-scale development program. The ATR effort wouldn't deliver an aircraft until 2016. Bombardier hasn't decided on the Q400X but if it pulled the trigger soon it could undoubtedly beat that timeline.