Avro RJX competitors stumble


Over a year after BAE Systems abruptly cancelled the Avro RJX program, most of its competitors have encountered problems. The Fairchild Dornier 728 program has fallen victim of the company’s bankruptcy. Although the prototype was rolled out, it never flew. Frantic efforts to save the program appear unlikely to succeed, and what is left of the company appears likely to be broken up. Lufthansa, who had placed a major order for 728s for its CityLine subsidiary, thus appears likely to fly its Avro RJ85s longer. Across the Atlantic, the Embraer 170 family has experienced several delays. Although certification and initial deliveries were supposed to occur before year-end, they have been pushed back into 2003. The type also appears likely to need a supplementary airbrake to be able to operate into London City, as promised to launch customer Crossair (now Swiss). Swiss, too, will thus likely retain its Avro RJ85s and RJ100s longer than originally envisaged. The Airbus A318, already delayed by technical problems with its P&W PW6000 powerplant, has been hit by numerous cancellations that have whittled down its orderbook substantially, placing the future of the program in doubt. British Airways was the latest defector, replacing an order for twelve A318s with other members of Airbus’ narrowbody family. Had BAE Systems not rashly cancelled the RJX just short of its certification, its head start over its competitors would have lasted for several years.

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