Bombardier has launched a new model in its CRJ regional jet (RJ) range. The CRJ550 will seat 50 passengers and United Airlines is the launch customer, with its feeder carrier GoJet operating the aircraft under the United Express brand.
The first example will enter service later this year.
Bombardier says the CRJ550 is the first aircraft of its size to offer a triple-class seat layout; United’s aircraft will be configured with ten first-class seats, 20 in premium economy and 20 in economy. The CRJ550 will not have a traditional galley, with only “a self-serve beverage and snack station” at the front of the cabin. Bombardier claims the CRJ550 will offer more overall legroom per seat than any other 50-seat aircraft while giving operational commonality with the other CRJ models.
Bombardier said the CRJ550 will have a “new type certificate based on the CRJ700”. In other words, it will basically be a CRJ700, but with an interior designed to meet the scope clause limitation for 50-seat RJs.
Scope clauses are the agreements in contracts between the major network airlines and pilots’ unions in North America that define the number and size of RJs in major carriers’ regional feeder fleets.
The clauses mean RJ manufacturers must match seat numbers and maximum take-off weights and were key to the emergence from the 1990s of 50-seat RJs, such as the CRJ100/CRJ200 and Embraer ERJ140/ERJ145.
The evolution of scope clauses meant RJ manufacturers moved to producing larger aircraft, with Bombardier itself bringing out the CRJ700, CRJ900 and CRJ1000. However, with the 50-seaters getting older, Bombardier sees large potential demand for new and more efficient RJs of this size; the company believes there’s a market for over 700 such aircraft.