Bombardier is looking to revitalize its CRJ aircraft series with a new interiors concept, dubbed Atmosphere. The new cabin features upgraded overhead bins, seats, lighting and lavatories, a combination that the company hopes will equalize sales numbers relative to Embraer and bring the Canadian manufacturer back on par in the 60-100 seat regional jet market. The new cabin is available for aircraft deliveries starting in the second half of 2018.
The biggest criticism of the CRJ versus the E-Jets has been the cabin. Guess what? We’re addressing that. We have the biggest customer base. We’re clearly recognized as being the lowest cost product. – Colin Bole, SVP Sales Bombardier Commercial Aircraft
The new Atmosphere cabin is the third generation of CRJ interior and bring several modern conveniences into the fleet. Some are aesthetic, such as making mood lighting a built-in offering rather than an after-market add-on. Others are more significant to the day-to-day passengers experience. The new overhead bins will handle rolling bags “wheels in” and add up to 40% more space. That makes passengers happy and reduces operating costs for the airlines as fewer bags are gate-checked.
The forward galley area is reworked to present a more open experience as passengers board the CRJ. That’s nice, but the real value to travelers comes in the new forward lavatory option Bombardier introduced in Atmosphere. For the first time ever airlines can choose to offer a Passengers with Reduced Mobility (PRM) lav on board a regional jet. VP Marketing Patrick Baudis spoke to the value proposition this new lavatory brings and how it is about more than just passengers traditionally seen as handicapped.
Passenger with reduced mobility does not necessarily mean people in a wheelchair. It includes pregnant women, people with small children, people with injuries. There are all sorts of people who travel now no matter what because it is part of our lives. They expect to see even in a regional jet the same level of comfort and features that you get in other jets.
The new lav layout is an option, not a standard feature, but Baudis is hopeful that airlines will choose that option. Even if they do not, however, there is some good news for passengers. The PRM lav is as much about fixtures as it is about space inside. And the walls of the space are fixed to be able to accommodate the PRM fitting. Even if an airline does not choose to include all the fixtures that forward lav should still be spacious enough for most travelers.
Historically only twin-aisle aircraft were required to offer PRM-configured lavatories. Some options exist today for single-aisle aircraft but, generally speaking, they’re terribly cramped and logistically challenging. SpaceFlex (v1 and v2) suffer that problem terribly. This option from Bombardier takes advantage of adjusting monument locations to deliver the benefit without taking away from passengers elsewhere on board.
Ultimately Bombardier recognizes that the cabin it previously delivered on the CRJ700, CRJ900 and CRJ1000 came up short compared to Embraer. Atmosphere is its effort to reverse that view and recover future market share. With the 50-seat RJs set to disappear this is the new battleground and Bombardier needs to step up its game to find success.
Looking forward we see no reasons why, with the economics we have on the CRJ, fixing some attractiveness we have in the cabin and some functionalities that were missing in the cabin, why the airlines would not select the CRJ further. –Baudis
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