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The Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet or CRJ for short, is one of the, if not the most, successful line of short to medium-haul regional aircraft today. First introduced in 1991, the CRJ 100/200 line was upgraded to meet the ever-increasing regional traffic requirements. The result was the CRJ 700 series which gave birth to the CRJ 900.
The Bombardier CRJ 900 was announced in 1999 after which production began in 2001. It is a stretched version of the CRJ 700 with two fuselage extensions, added in the front and back of the main fuselage of the CRJ 700 to increase the maximum capacity from 70 seats to 86 seats.
The two aircraft as so closely related that they share a rating and a cross-crew qualification can be obtained with minimal training.
Additional changes included an increase in thrust, upgraded brakes, and wheels for better performance, more robust components such as the landing gear for increased structural integrity, and another service door at the rear for easier access for the crew to shorten turnaround times.
The last Bombardier CRJ 900 rolled off the assembly line on the 28th of February, 2021. During its 20-year production run, Bombardier has manufactured 491 CRJ 900s. The CRJ 900 was succeeded by the stretched CRJ 900X (later renamed the CRJ 1000) which increased the number of seats by 14 for a total of 100.
Bombardier CRJ 900 Specifications
|Length||118 ft. 11 in / 36.2 m|
|Height||24 ft. 7 in / 7.5 m|
|Fuselage Max Diameter||8 ft. 10 in / 2.7 m|
|Wingspan||81 ft. 7 in / 24.9 m|
|Wing Area||765 ft² / 71.1 m²|
|Length||69 ft. 4 in / 21.13 m|
|Height||6 ft. 2 in / 1.89 m|
|Width||8 ft. 4 in / 2.55 m|
|Floor Area||486 ft² / 45.1 m²|
|Volume||2,974 ft³ / 84.21 m³|
|Cargo Volume||594 ft³ / 16.8 m³|
|Cabin Bin Volume Per Pax||1.9 ft³ / 0.05 m3³|
|Maximum Ramp Weight (Base)||80,750 lb / 36,628 kg|
|Maximum Ramp Weight (Max)||85,000 lb / 38,555 kg|
|Maximum Take-Off Weight (Base)||80,500 lb / 36,514 kg|
|Maximum Take-Off Weight (Max)||84,500 lb / 38,330 kg|
|Maximum Landing Weight (Base)||73,500 lb/ 33,340 kg|
|Maximum Landing Weight (Max)||75,100 lb/ 34,065 kg|
|Maximum Zero Fuel (Base)||70,000 lb / 31,751 kg|
|Maximum Zero Fuel (Max)||70,750 lb / 32,092 kg|
|Maximum Payload (Base)||21,840 lb / 9,907 kg|
|Maximum Payload (Max)||22,590 lb / 10,247 kg|
|Maximum Fuel Capacity||19,595 lb / 8,888 kg|
|Cargo Weight||6,075 lb / 2,756 kg|
|Maximum Range||1553 nm / 1787 mi /2876 kmph|
|High-Speed Cruise||0.82 Mach / 470 kts / 541 mph / 871 kmph|
|Standard Cruise||0.78 Mach / 447 kts / 515 mph / 829 kmph|
|Maximum Operating Mach Number (Mmo)||0.82 Mach|
|Fuel Burn (Average)||396 gal / 1,500 l|
|Takeoff Distance (SL, ISA, MTOW)||6360 ft / 1938 m|
|Landing Distance (SL, ISA, MLW)||5,360 ft / 1,630 m|
|Service Ceiling||41,000 ft / 12,497 m|
|Rate of Climb||2,000 fpm / 10.16 m/s|
|Rate of Climb (Single Engine)||1,200 fpm / 6.09 m/s|
|Rated Takeoff Thrust (each)||13,360 lbf / 59.4 kN|
|Rated APR Thrust (each)||14,510 lbf / 64.5 kN|
|Noise Level (Flyover)||82.2 EPNdB|
|Noise Level (Approach)||92.4 EPNdB|
|Occupancy||76 – 90|
|Flight Deck||Rockwell Collins Pro Line 4 with six-screen EFIS/EICAS|
|Engine(s)||2 General Electric CF34-8C5 Turbofans|
|Auxiliary Power Unit||Honeywell RE220|
Bombardier CRJ 900 Performance and Flight Characteristics
The Bombardier CRJ 900 is more powerful, and faster than its immediate competition. This is thanks to its two General Electric CF34-8C5 turbofan engines that produce a combined 29,020 lbf (130 kN) of thrust.
The engines propel the aircraft to a service ceiling of 41,000 ft (12,497 m) and a top speed of 0.82 Mach (470 kts), which is slightly more than its immediate competition. The engines are also quick to respond and provide power to the pilots in the event of a go-around.
The CRJ 900 is a rear-engine T-tail aircraft and can be susceptible to a deep stall, also known as a super stall, which can be unrecoverable.
Prevention is better than cure, so the aircraft has been fitted with stick shakers and pushers to prevent any type of stall. In the rare event, a deep stall is encountered, the engines of the CRJ 900 have enough thrust to pull it out of the situation.
Bombardier CRJ 900 Modifications and Options
The CRJ 900 is available in four main configurations: triple class, dual-class, single class, and the max. The main difference between the configurations is the number of seats, with the classes having 76, 81, 88, and 90 seats, respectively.
The triple and dual configurations include business class seats in the front of the aircraft. The triple class has 12 of these seats, while the dual has only 9. The single and max configurations only have the standard, with the main difference being that the max has two extra seats squeezed next to the aft lavatory.
Bombardier CRJ 900 Price
One of the factors for the success of the CRJ 900 is the price. In 2018, the CRJ 900 was listed at $48 million. It was uniquely positioned to provide operators with the most value for money when compared to its direct competitors.
However, most airlines purchase in bulk and receive a significant discount on the sticker price, such as the American Airlines order for 15 aircraft, at less than $20 million a unit.
In 2018, the average market value of a CRJ 900 was $24 million, half of what the cost of a brand new aircraft costs. In the same year, an older 2012 model was sold for just $14 million.
The prices show that the CRJ 900 depreciates rather quickly, this is mostly due to the nature of its operations as a quick turnaround regional aircraft. The aircraft depreciated nearly 10 percent in 2021 alone.
Bombardier CRJ 900 Operation Costs
Operating an aircraft costs money to run. The crew has to be paid, fuel needs to be bought, and the aircraft requires maintenance. These costs can be separated into two categories, fixed and variable costs.
Fixed costs are costs that are not affected by the usage of the aircraft. A good example is the annual inspection that an aircraft has to go through every 12 calendar months, it has to be completed regardless of if you flew the aircraft a 1,000 hours or one hour.
Research shows that the total annual fixed cost for a CRJ 900 is roughly $1,243,000.
The fixed cost breakdown is as follows:
|Fixed Cost||Annual Expenditure ($)|
Most airline operators purchase aircraft on leases. The CRJ 900s rapid depreciation means that every year, the lease value for these aircraft reduces. In 2021, the market value of every CRJ 900 decreased by 8.3%. The change resulted in lower market rates for leases, with a 10-year-old aircraft costing between $76,000 to $84,000 a month.
Salaries for regional airline pilots vary wildly on the success of the operator. A starting salary for a first officer in a CRJ 900 is around $43,200 per annum, while a captain earns $120,000 per annum.
This brings the cost per flight crew to $163,200. This number does not reflect the cost of employee insurance, and other benefits employees may receive because the values are inconsistent and an estimate is difficult.
Crew Training Costs
The cost of training a pilot in the CRJ depends on if the airline has an existing fleet of CRJ 700s. If they do, a type rating for the CRJ 900 can be achieved with a simple 3-day course. In the more likely scenario that a pilot has to be trained from the ground up, a type rating can cost up to $20,000.
While the training cost for the type rating is a cost that is paid only once per pilot, the airline also absorbs the cost of examinations such as the biennial proficiency checks, and other more infrequent examinations such as medicals.
These costs cannot be accurately calculated per calendar year, as expiration periods differ. A rough estimation per crew would be around $10,000
An aircraft can be either tied down on the ramp or parked inside a hangar.
Storing the aircraft on the ramp is the most inexpensive method. The operator will have to pay for only the tie-down equipment, and the parking space. However, there is no protection from the elements and the chances of a wayward airport vehicle hitting the aircraft is higher.
Parking on the ramp is the most cost-effective method for regional airlines since most of the flights conducted are quick turnaround. The frequency of the flights and the little time spent on the ground makes ramp parking the most effective method of storage for a regional aircraft.
On the other hand, hangars protect the aircraft from all the elements and keep them safe from incidents. However, renting hangar space is costly and can make up a significant part of the fixed costs. The average annual price of renting hangar space depends on the airport.
In the state of Arizona, a hangar could set you back $81,000. But at a larger and busier airport like Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), hangars can easily cost around $120,000, minimum. According to Compare Private Planes, the average cost of a hangar is around $102,000.
Regional aircraft are usually only stored in hangars during maintenance or when absolutely required, and since the cost is shared among all the aircraft in a fleet. On average storing a single CRJ 900 would cost an estimated $30,000.
While a package for most private and commercial aircraft only requires liability and hull insurance. Airlines are held to a much higher standard, and often purchase insurance plans that cover the airplane, liability for the passengers, crew, and ground staff.
Miscellaneous Fixed Costs
These are surprise costs that can occur over the year for the aircraft. Updating the charts on the avionics system or software upgrades, etc. It’s good practice to factor in these costs.
Costs that increase with use are variable costs. An operator has to manage a variety of variable costs such as fuel, maintenance, operating fees, etc.
|Variable Cost||Hourly Expenditure ($)|
|Fuel Cost (at $3.93 per gallon)||2,574|
The biggest variable cost for any aircraft is fuel. The CRJ 900 burns an average of 655 gallons of fuel per hour, but this is a ballpark figure and varies wildly based on the altitude and other performance factors.
The cost of fuel also varies depending on economic factors and location. A gallon of fuel in California will be more expensive than the same gallon in North Dakota. A gallon of Jet-A in the United States costs an average of $3.93 as of June 2022. This means the CRJ 900 will cost $2,574 an hour.
Operating costs such as landing, navigation, and crew fees should be factored into variable costs. However, it’s estimating operating costs is difficult as it depends on the route and conditions.
The second highest cost is maintenance. Each hour the aircraft flies contributes to wear and tear. This is especially true for regional airlines, the main operators of CRJs, who work these aircraft hard, and fly them often.
Quick turnaround trips are the norm for regional aircraft. These short trips mean that the aircraft’s engines are flying at lower altitudes which affects the overall performance and increases wear.
Takeoffs and landings are much more frequent, which put extra strain on the landing gear components and engines due to the increased use of the thrust reversers.
Bombardier CRJ 900 Competitors
The main competitor of the CRJ 900 is the Embraer 175. Each of these heavyweights battles it out round after round with no clear winner. In terms of pure sales, the CRJ 900 has sold more units, and thanks to its slightly more powerful engines, is faster by 0.03 Mach.
The CRJ also carries more passengers, beating out the Embraer 175s maximum of 78 seats by 12. The CRJ series also has a better safety record than the E series. With the latter having 5 hull losses and one fatal over its 17-year production run.
The Embraer 175 has plenty to be proud of. It is considered by passengers to be the more comfortable thanks to its roomier fuselage, but passengers also claim that the CRJ 900 handles turbulence better. It also can carry a higher load than the CRJ and a significantly higher range, nearly 700 nm (1296 km).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Question: What is a Deep/Super Stall?
Answer: A deep stall or super stall is an issue unique to T-tail aircraft. During high angles of attack, the airflow separates from the surface of the wing and does not produce the required lift. In an airplane with a standard tail, the turbulent air from the wings has little effect on the elevator.
With a T-tail, the turbulent air flows over the stabilator, which prevents it from creating enough downward force to pitch the nose down and recover from the stall.
Question: What is Service Ceiling?
Answer: The service ceiling of an aircraft is the maximum altitude at which it can maintain a 500 fpm climb for jet aircraft or 100 fpm climb for piston aircraft. Unlike the absolute ceiling, the service ceiling is not a limitation. However, flying above it will result in lower climb performance i.e. less than 500 fpm.
Question: What is Absolute Ceiling?
Answer: The absolute ceiling of an aircraft is the altitude at which a climb is no longer possible and only level flight can be maintained i.e. the rate of climb will be zero. It is also the altitude at which the minimum thrust required to maintain level flight is equal to the maximum power the engines can provide.
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