The Future of the Regional Aircraft Market

In recent years we have seen an influx of new technologies and trends in the aerospace industry. Regional jet manufacturers are beginning to see many changes as well.  New and established regional aircraft manufacturers will face an increasingly competitive and flooded market, along with new technological advances and airline needs.

Some relatively new entrants and aircraft in the regional jet market  include Mitsubishi’s MRJ (Japan), Comac’s ARJ (China), Sukhoi’s Superjet-100 (Russia) and Honda’s Honda Jet, while established regional aircraft manufacturers are developing their next generation jets.  These include Bombardier’s C Series (Canada), and Embrier’s E2 (Brazil) family of regional jets. Embraer Jets

Both new and established regional jet airframers have experienced continued delays with these new aircraft programs and for the most part there hasn’t been widespread market adoption (read open order backlog) for any of these new regional aircraft as of yet.  That could change during the Farnborough Air Show next week, where we are likely to see some E2 orders.  Much of the open orders for the Sukhoi Superjet-100 and the Comac ARJ are in support of their local markets with very few orders from foreign operators or lessors.  So what will distinguish the market leader in this competitive regional jet market space?   My bet is that it would come down to the established support network, which the operators rely on for these aircraft.  In this case, the established players, Embraer and Bombardier, will be tough for the new entrants to compete with.  Embraer seems to have found a strong operation and is the clear winner. They have a well-established after-market support network, historically don’t suffer from program delays when it comes to entry into service and with the continued delays in many of the new regional jet entrants the E2 is not far behind with a planned entry in 2018.

The new engine options for single aisle aircraft from Boeing (737 MAX) and Airbus (A320 NEO), are also making it difficult for these regional aircraft to compete on a cost per flight hour basis.   Regional jets certainly still have their place where smaller markets or airports don’t support the larger aircraft.

The future of the regional aircraft market is complicated and will likely face additional challenges as new technologies and manufacturers develop.  What are your thoughts?

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