The CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet) is a small regional jet airliner developed from the Challenger business jet, built by Canadair (since 1986 part of Bombardier). The CRJ was the first really successful Western passenger jet in the 50-seater class. Since its introduction in the early 1990s regional airlines often use it as a feeder aircraft to connect small airports with the hubs of major airlines.
The CRJ is designed to offer fast jet service on relatively long sectors for which turboprop aircraft are rather slow. In the early 1980s, Canadair started studying a 24-seat stretch of the CL-600 Challenger bizjet, but from 1987 considered a much more stretched aircraft. In 1989 the aircraft manufacturer decided to go ahead with the 50-seat CRJ-100 regional jet. The first flight took place on 10 May 1991 and Canadair delivered the first production CRJ to Lufthansa's regional subsidiary Cityline in October 1992.
Compared with the Challenger, the CRJ does not only have a stretched fuselage, but also a new wing, a digital EFIS flight deck, a new undercarriage and more powerful engines. Canadair soon developed Extended Range (ER) and Long Range (LR) variants. The CRJ200 has the same fuselage length as the CRJ100, but is fitted with more efficient engines. This version is also available in ER and LR variants. The CRJ440 is a 44-seat variant with the same dimensions as the CRJ200 but with reduced capacity to comply with pilot scope clause restrictions which didn't allow regional airlines in the USA to operate aircraft with 50 seats or more on behalf of major airlines. The Challenger 800 and 850 are business jet versions of the CRJ200.
After building 1021 aircraft (226 CRJ100s and 795 CRJ200s), production of these models ended. Only the larger CRJ700, CRJ900 and CRJ1000 are still in production. The heydays of the smallest regional jet airliners are over and many airlines are in the process of withdrawing small regional jets like the CRJ100/200 and Embraer ERJ-145 from service. Because of high fuel prices and other costs, the smaller regional jets are difficult to operate economically in today's market environment. Airlines have an increased preference for operating turboprop aircraft on regional flights, but they still buy the larger regional jets.
After the success of the CRJ100 and CRJ200, Bombardier decided to develop stretched versions. The CRJ700, seating around 70 passengers, first flew on 27 May 1999. It is 4.72 m (15 ft 6 in) longer than the CRJ100/200 and the cabin floor is lowered slightly to provide passengers more headroom and allow them a better view from the windows. Bombardier also increased the wingspan and added leading edge slats to the wing to improve runway performance. The main undercarriage legs are lengthened and have new wheels, brakes and tyres. The engines are of a more powerful version of the General Electric CF34. Later CRK700s are fitted with the larger CRJ900's wing and a derated version of the CF34 turbofan used on the CRJ900 to increase commonality between the CRJ700 and CRJ900. The CRJ705 is a variant with a 10-seat first class section. Of the CRJ700LR Bombardier offers a bizjet version, named 'Challenger 870'. Until spring 2016 Bombardier had booked orders for a total of 352 CRJ700s.
The CRJ900 is a further stretch with up to 86 seats. It has a strengthened wing and undercarriage and more powerful CF34 engines. Bombardier kept further changes compared with the CRJ700 as minimal as possible. The first flight took place on 21 February 2001 and in January 2003 the Mesa Air Group received the first production aircraft and put it into service on behalf of America West Express. A corporate version of the CRJ900LR is named 'Challenger 890'. Until spring 2016 Bombardier had sold 411 CRJ900s.
Long Range (LR) and Extended Range (ER) variants are available of both the CRJ700 and CRJ900. In 2007 Bombardier launched the improved CRJ700 NextGen and CRJ900 NextGen (Next Generation) with improved cabins, larger cabin windows and more composite construction materials in the airframe. Intervals between C-checks are 50 percent longer to reduce maintenance costs.
In early 2007 Bombardier decided to develop the CRJ1000 (formerly known as 'CRJ900X'), which seats up to 100 passengers in an even more stretched fuselage. The aircraft has the same CF34 engines as the CRJ900 and the larger passenger windows of the CRJ700 and CRJ900 NextGen models. The first flight took place on 28 July 2009, but first deliveries were delayed from early 2010 to December 2010 because of software problems with the rudder control-by-wire system, a new feature of the CRJ1000. The first users were Brit Air (France) and Air Nostrum (Spain). Until spring 2016 Bombardier had sold around 70 CRJ1000s.
Wingspan: 21.21 m (69 ft 7 in). Length: 26.77 m (87 ft 10 in). Height: 6.22 m (20 ft 5 in).
Empty weight: 14,016 kg (30,900 lb). Max. take-off weight: 24,041 kg (53,000 lb).
Accommodation: 50 passengers. Range: 2,491 km (1,345 nm). Cruise speed: 785 km/h (424 kts).
Engines: two General Electric CF34-3B1 (38.83 kN - 8,729 lb).
Wingspan: 23.24 m (76 ft 3 in). Length: 32.30 m (106 ft 1 in). Height: 7.57 m (24 ft 10 in).
Empty weight: 19,731 kg (43,500 lb). Max. take-off weight: 34,926 kg (77,000 lb).
Accommodation: 70-78 passengers. Range: 3,704 km (2,000 nm). Cruise speed: 828 km/h (447 kts).
Engines: two General Electric CF34-8C1 (13,790 lb - 51.3 kN).
Wingspan: 24.85 m (81 ft 6 in). Length: 36.40 m (119 ft 4 in). Height: 7.51 m (24 ft 7 in).
Empty weight: 21,432 kg (47,250 lb). Max. take-off weight: 38,329 kg (84,500 lb).
Accommodation: 86-90 passengers. Range: 3,385 km (1,828 nm). Cruise speed: 828 km/h (447 kts). Engines: two General Electric CF34-8C5 (14,510 lb - 64.5 kN).
Wingspan: 26.18 m (85 ft 10.6 in). Length: 39.13 m (128 ft 4.7 in). Height: 7.50 m (24 ft 6 in).
Empty weight: 23,188 kg (51,120 lb). Max. take-off weight: 41,640 kg (91,800 lb).
Accommodation: 100-104 passengers. Range: 3,004 km - 1,622 nm). Cruise speed: 829 km/h (447 kts).
Engines: two General Electric CF34-8C5A1 (14,510 lb - 65.5 kN)