World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Regional airliner

Article Id: WHEBN0000324902
Reproduction Date:

Title: Regional airliner  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Regional jet, Airliner, Competition in the Regional jet market, Antonov, ATR 72
Collection: Civil Aircraft
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Regional airliner

A regional airliner or a feederliner is a small airliner that is designed to fly up to 100 passengers on short-haul flights, usually feeding larger carriers' airline hubs from small markets. This class of airliners are typically flown by the regional airlines that are either contracted by or subsidiaries of the larger airlines. Regional airliners are used for short trips between smaller towns or from a larger city to a smaller city. Feederliner, commuter, and local service are all alternative terms for the same class of flight operations.[1]


  • History 1
    • Turboprop designs 1.1
    • Regional jets 1.2
    • Recent changes: Economics and operations 1.3
  • Features 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


The Douglas DC-3 first flew in 1935 and had a range of around 1,000 miles (1,625 kilometers.)

In the early days of aviation, most aircraft had a relatively short range so that all airlines were "regional" in nature. With the introduction of longer range aircraft, notably flying boats, these shorter range planes increasingly found their niche feeding the newer and longer range airliners by flying passengers to the mainline's airline hubs. Many of these smaller regional airlines were eventually bought by the larger flag carriers.

To keep these short routes economical, the airlines were generally unwilling to spend large amounts of money on new aircraft; at times they used second hand aircraft.[1] Also, as new models slowly emerged, older aircraft were put into this service when they were replaced by progressively longer-range designs. In the immediate post-war era these were typically Douglas DC-3s, although even the De Havilland Dragon Rapide biplane airliner remained in service for some time. This "hand-me-down" process of supplying aircraft continued with designs like the Convair 440, Douglas DC-6 and Vickers Viscount also serving in this role while the first jets were introduced.

Turboprop designs

By the mid-1950s, demand for even more economical designs led to the production of the first custom feederliners. These were almost always turboprops, which had fuel economy on par with piston engine designs, but had far lower maintenance costs. Often the time between engine overhaul periods was five times that of the best piston engines. Early examples of these designs include the Avro 748, Fokker F27 and Handley Page Dart Herald.

These designs were so successful that it was many years before newer designs bettered them enough to make it worthwhile to develop. There were a few exceptions, generally tailored to more specific roles. For instance, the Handley Page Jetstream (first flight in 1968) was intended for fewer passengers at much higher speeds, displacing smaller designs like the Beechcraft Queen Air. The Fairchild/Swearingen Metro (developed from the original Queen Air through a number of stages) filled a similar niche.

By the 1970s the first generation regional airliners were starting to wear out, but there had been little effort in producing new designs for this market. A varied list of light transport aircraft supplanted by newer and more modern 30 seat designs by Shorts with their Shorts 330 and 360 as well as other aircraft manufacturers, replaced and sometimes provided growth to established commuter markets. Additional development came to the regional airline industry with the arrival of some of the earlier De Havilland Canada types such as the Dash 7 delivered in 1978, but this was tailored more to the short-range and STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) role than as a regional airliner. Feedback from the airlines was fairly consistent, however, and De Havilland responded with the Dash 8 in 1984, which had economic benefits over the earlier generation machines, and was faster and quieter as well.

In the early 1990s, the Dash 8's success sparked off development of a number of similar designs, including the ATR 42/72, Saab 340, Embraer Brasilia and Fokker F50. Consequently, there were a relatively large number of aircraft offered by manufacturers in this sector of the market, pushing older 1950s designs from Fokker, Vickers and others into retirement. Due to the high level of competition, production of a number of these types ceased. Saab AB exited the civil aviation market and wrote its debts off, Daimler-Benz Aerospace "pulled the plug" on Dornier, and British Aerospace ended production of their BAe Jetstream 41 after 100 delivered. In 2006 only the ATR 42/72 models, the Dash 8 and the Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia (under request) remain in production.

Regional jets

Sukhoi Superjet 100 in Campeche, Mexico

Another reason for the downturn in the turboprop market was the introduction of the first regional jets. Although a number of small jets entered service in the 1950s and 60s, notably the Sud Aviation Caravelle, Fokker F28 and Yak-40, these could not compete in terms of cost of operation with the turboprop designs, and were suitable for routes with small numbers of passengers, as opposed to short routes where fuel economy was paramount. As engine technology improved, this difference continued to narrow, until the higher utilization factors due to higher cruising speeds erased any remaining advantage from lower operating costs.

The earliest example of a true short-range jet is the BAe 146, produced by BAE Systems. However, like the Dash 7 before it, the BAe 146 was tuned to a very specific market, city-center to city-center service where low noise and excellent takeoff performance were paramount. Like the Dash 7, the market niche for this design proved to be fairly small, and its four engines meant it had higher maintenance costs than twin-engine designs. Unlike the Dash 7 example BAe did not respond by producing a twin-engine design that filled the same range requirements but offering lower operational costs.

This was addressed by Bombardier's twin-engine Canadair Regional Jet, which became a best-seller. The CRJ's range is enough to fill mid-range routes as well, routes previously served by larger aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and DC-9. These aircraft were originally intended to be used for direct airport-to-airport flights, bypassing hubs, and led to industry-wide discussions about the decline of the hub-and-spoke model. Although not as economical as the turboprop, by flying directly to and from smaller airports, they reduced the need for low-cost regional airliners. And although turboprops are quiet to outside observers, propwash makes them very noisy inside.[2] Passengers greatly preferred jets, both for real and perception reasons.

As had happened with the turboprops of only a few years earlier, the success of the CRJ led to the introduction of a host of competitors. The only successful example is the Embraer ERJ 145, which has seen excellent sales and has competed strongly with the CRJ in most markets. Bombardier and Embraer have been locked in a series of counter-lawsuits over export taxes and subsidies ever since. The ERJ's success led to a totally new version, the Embraer E-Jets series, which Bombardier chose not to compete against until recently, with the announced Bombardier CSeries.

A Bombardier CRJ700 in Delta Connection livery.

Other competitors have not been successful. Fairchild Dornier introduced the Fairchild Dornier 328JET to compete, but went bankrupt soon afterwards and the type did not enter large scale production. Their bankruptcy also ended development of the more competitive Fairchild-Dornier 728, which had attracted strong airline interest.

The CRJ and ERJ success also played a minor part in the failure of Fokker, whose Fokker 100 found itself squeezed on both sides by new models of the Boeing 737 and Airbus A319 on the "large" side and the RJs on the "small side". Bombardier turned down the chance to purchase Fokker's assets, feeling that the 100-seat market was already saturated by designs like the A319.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100, a 60 to 95-seat jet developed by the Russian aerospace firm Sukhoi with assistance of Ilyushin and Boeing entered service in 2011. The Antonov An-148 entered service in 2009 but it remains to be seen if it will have any success in a market that has been fairly hesitant to adopt aircraft from the former Soviet Union.

Recent changes: Economics and operations

CityJet is a European regional airline operating services on behalf of its owner Air France. This is a British Aerospace 146-200.

In 2005, the "regional jet" boom suddenly collapsed, as increasing fuel prices and airline bankruptcies led to a rethinking of route structures. The high per-seat operational costs of the classic 50-seat regional jet have been exacerbated by an environment of ever-lowering fares. Furthermore, RJs increasingly were assigned to operate flights of two hours or more. This led to angry passengers, as their comfort and ergonomics compare unfavorably to the larger "mainline" jets which they replaced on these flights.[3] Fifty-seat regional jets are being retired at accelerated rates, affecting both their resale value and the value of their parts. Bombardier's

  1. ^ a b "Guide to Feederline Aircraft".  
  2. ^ Justin Bachman (April 30, 2008). "Airlines give propellers another spin".  
  3. ^ Barbara De Lollis; Barbara Hansen (September 5, 2006). "Regional jet use stabilizing".  
  4. ^ Compart, Andrew, Powering down, Aviation Week and Space Technology, February 25, 2013, pp. 34-35
  5. ^ Compart, Andrew, Young at part, Aviation Week and Space Technology, April 15, 2013, pp.44-46
  6. ^ "Bombardier to suspend CRJ200 production".  
  7. ^ Alan Zibel (August 8, 2007). "Flight Delays Soar to 13-Year High".  
  8. ^ Scott McCartney (August 13, 2007). "As Big Airlines Turn to Smaller Commercial Jets and Schedule More Flights, Airline Delays Worsen".  
  9. ^ Barbara De Lollis; Barbara Hansen (2006-09-05). "Regional jet use stabilizing".  
  10. ^ David Grossman (February 14, 2005). "State of Independence is still unclear".  


See also

The idea that regional jets would provide point-to-point service and bypass the hub-and-spoke system may not be materializing as it was expected. As of January 2003, 90% of all regional jet flights in the United States had a hub or major airport at one end of that flight, and this number has been gradually increasing since 1995.

The notion that regional jet aircraft are less expensive (per seat mile) than traditional jets is a common misconception. On a seat-mile basis the RJ's cost is in fact higher.[10] Regional jets are operated in the USA under a fee-per-departure payment structure. In this payment structure, a traditional airline contracts with a regional airline company on a per departure or per flight basis regardless of the number of passengers or the length of the flight. The traditional airline gets to keep all the revenue from the ticket sale and only pays the regional partner the agreed to amount. These contracts tend to be long term agreements, typically 10 year terms. The regional airline partner can then be relatively sure of the revenue side and only has to control cost in order to earn a modest return. However, these "regional airlines," now really "small jet providers" of contracted aircraft, have been squeezed by U.S. airline bankruptcies, fleet reductions and increasing operating costs. U.S. Legacy carriers have no longer been willing to shoulder burdensome losses from guaranteed-profit contracts with their small jet providers, and accordingly have played carrier against carrier in a low-bid game that has left hundreds of RJs idle and others potentially on their way to being laid up.

Seating on regional airliners tends to be narrow and tight, and passengers typically are restricted from bringing on board carry-on items which would fit without difficulty in the overhead bins of larger aircraft. Often carry-on luggage is collected immediately prior to boarding and placed in the cargo hold, where it can be quickly retrieved by the ground staff while the passengers exit. Regional airliners have been described by many Brownsville, Texas.

Cabin of an Embraer E-190.


Regional airliners are also being blamed for flight delays in the US. According to the Wall Street Journal, 30% of flights in June 2007 were late by an average of 62 minutes. The delays are being blamed on an increased number of smaller aircraft,[7] which the airlines are using in order to fill out schedules and provide more flights per day. This has led to the grounding of 385 larger aircraft and the adding of 1,029 regionals over the period from 2000 to 2006.[8] The downside to this approach is that airports are running out of gates, causing delays as aircraft queue up for this limited resource.

In late 2005, Bombardier suspended its CRJ-200 production line.[6] The new trend is for larger aircraft with better economics, exemplified by Bombardier's 70-seat CRJ-700 and the 70-110-seat E-Jet series. The E-Jets in particular blur the line between "mainline" and "regional," as their cabin comfort is comparable or superior to traditional narrowbody jets like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 while offering ranges of over 2,000 miles, greater than some early mainline jet airliners such as the DC-9 and BAC-111.

Further, the replacement of the hub-and-spoke model simply never took place. The economics and routing advantages of this mode of operation were simply too great. As the hub-and-spoke model has always been supported by low-cost regional airliners, turboprop designs once again became a major market. Improving their attractiveness in relation to the jets was the introduction of active noise-reduction systems, which reduced cabin noise to levels comparable, or even lower, than the RJ's. Bombardier found their Dash 8 to be in high demand once again, and shifted production to their latest model, the Bombardier Q400.

[5]). On the one hand, Rolls Royce's "TotalCare" program provides smaller airlines with engine maintenance programs they cannot run themselves and helps support the resale value of the engines; on the other hand, Rolls Royce's restrictions on where aftermarket parts can be sourced increases the price of the engines and the total cost of operating an already economically unattractive aircraft.General Electric's tighter control over after-market engine parts (compared to Rolls-Royce 50 seat models is expected to increase even more because their economic value is hurt by Embraer ERJ While Embraer regional jets fared better, the retirement of the [4]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.