Regional airframers endure sluggish first quarter sales

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By Max Kingsley-Jones

Western regional manufacturers have suffered as slow a start to 2009 as their tier one rivals Airbus and Boeing during the first three months of trading. Their combined orders - Bombardier CSeries aside - failed to make it into double figures.

The comparison - only now possible as Bombardier has just released its fiscal year quarter one data (31 January-30 April) - shows that total net orders for the Canadian company, Embraer and ATR amounted to 55 aircraft, although all but five of these were for the CSeries.

The jet orderbook net tally was 49, which includes the 50 launch contracts for the 110/130 seat CSeries from Lufthansa and LCI and a net minus-one for Embraer's E-Jet family. The Bombardier CRJ family ended its fiscal year quarter one period on zero, with an order adjustment of plus one/minus one between the CRJ900 and CRJ1000 respectively.

© Bombardier

Embraer's single new E-170/175 order was offset by a two-order deficit for the E-190/195.

The turboprop sector fared slightly better than the established regional jets, with six net orders - thanks entirely to some sales success at ATR. Bombardier's Q Series did not record any sales during its first quarter.

Seventy-one regional aircraft were delivered in quarter one of which almost two-thirds were jets. Embraer continues to be the most prolific producer, delivering 32 aircraft, but was only just ahead of Bombardier's combined shipments (31 aircraft - 15 CRJs and 16 Q Series).

ATR had a slow first three months, delivering just eight aircraft (all ATR 72s).

The total order backlog has fallen slightly since the end of 2008 from 861 to 845 aircraft. Embraer remains overall market leader with 393 orders, although Bombardier's CSeries success has boosted its share of the jet sector from one-quarter to one-third.

ATR - although bottom of the overall regional airframer ranking - remains the clear market leader in the turboprop category with more than 60% of the backlog in that sector.

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