On Tuesday, Bombardier sold the CRJ program to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for $500 million. As part of the sale, Mitsubishi will close down the CRJ program once the last aircraft in Bombardier’s backlog is completed in the second half of 2020. The announcement officially marks the end of Bombardier’s involvement in the commercial aircraft industry. This is a stunning development that showcases the decline of the regional aircraft industry and Bombardier.
Bombardier was unable to keep the CRJ program running as sales for the aircraft have diminished. One factor that affected the sales performance of the CRJ was the decline in the regional airplane market. Over the past several years, many airlines have started to move from regional aircraft to mainline jets as part of a shift toward aircraft with more seats and better passenger comfort. In addition, many airlines in the United States have decided to move toward more mainline flying and less contracted regional flying, which has reduced the need for regional aircraft.
Above photo of Bombardier Commerical Aviation's Montreal Mirabel plant with a CRJ900 by Yan Gouger on Wikimedia Commons. Photo enhanced by FlyRadius and released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Another factor, one that may have played a more significant role in the decline, was Bombardier’s unwillingness to significantly upgrade the CRJ’s avionics and systems or design a new regional jet to keep up with current technology. A primary downside for the CRJ, from an aviation analyst perspective, is that it still had the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 4 avionics suite as the base system for the jet. The Pro Line 4 was launched in the 1990s, which makes it a dated system. The CRJ was also up against the Embraer E-Jet series which has greater passenger comfort and slightly better avionics. Embraer decided to update the E-Jet series, which was a good move on their end. However, Embraer has been experiencing difficulty and resorted to selling a significant portion of their company to Boeing.
The Q400 and the CRJ - The End of Bombardier’s Commercial Aviation Division
In 2018, Bombardier also sold the Q400 program to Longview Aviation Capital Corp. Recently, the transition of the Q400 division to Longview Aviation Capital was completed, and Bombardier officially ended involvement with the Q400. That development along with the CRJ announcement, marked the end of Bombardier’s Commercial Aviation division. The end of Bombardier Commercial Aviation is a major change for the commercial aviation industry, and it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to the end of the CRJ program.
Changes to Q400 On FlyRadius
On FlyRadius, we are evaluating ways to identify the changes to the Q400 program, which is now called the De Havilland Dash 8-400. The plane originally had the Dash 8-400 name; however, Bombardier changed the marketing name of the aircraft to the Bombardier Q400 before or after the launch of the plane.
It is a sad day to see the end of Bombardier’s Commercial Aviation program. Let's see if this development will allow someone to step in and deliver a new, innovative product to the marketplace.