Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

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Cavalier44
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Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#1 Post by Cavalier44 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:58 pm

Greetings folks,

I am trying to get a general sense of people's thoughts as to the direction regional flying is taking in Canada. In the past few years there has been a significant shakeup in regional flying in this country; the entrance of relative newcomers such as Sky Regional, Georgian with their CRJ expansion, and WestJet Encore has completely changed the potential career progression of a Canadian airline pilot. My purpose with this discussion is not to single out or bring criticism on the practices of any operator(s) as many issues have been discussed ad nauseam in other threads. Rather, I'm inviting speculation from those within the industry as to the direction regional flying may take in this country over the next few years.

With Jazz planning to eliminate the Dash 8-100s by 2025 and the 300s some time after that, I'm curious as to what aircraft will replace these 30-50 seat aircraft in service. Does this niche still exist for smaller aircraft on some routes or are regional airlines viewing it as more economical to operate a larger aircraft such as a Q400 or a CRJ on a less frequent basis? It seems that much of the B1900 flying could be transitioned to aircraft like the Dash 8-100 as rumours have been suggesting within the AC Express network, however with the age and amount of utilization these airframes have accumulated there can't be much of a future remaining for these 80s-vintage Dash-8s.

Personally I believe that ATR has positioned themselves strongly in the market with their ATR-42 as they have no competitor for new aircraft in the 40-50 seat range, however I am curious if any of the Canadian regionals will bite (northern operators excluded), or if the focus will be on larger aircraft on more populous segments.

As an AC Express pilot myself, I can only say that the communication with regards to the future Express network as a whole has been opaque at best. While each individual airline seems to have its own strategy for fleet growth I will be interested to see how Air Canada's larger strategy plays out with respect to the Express carriers and look forward to any speculation or insight others might provide.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#2 Post by Speedalive » Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:35 pm

I'm going make an uneducated guess..

I think looking at regional flying in Canada overall, we will see a shift to larger aircraft for a couple reasons. The first is that there really isn't a suitable replacement aircraft out there to take over the duties of the smaller classic Dash-8's and the 1900's. Sure there's the ATR. I don't know if I can see this being bought by the likes of Jazz, but you never know. The other is the internet. More people than ever are connected to the interwebs, especially via smart phones. As you probably know, unless you've been hidden under a rock for a long time, there's things like facebook and instagram. On these apps/websites, people post amazing pictures of their travels around the world and this drives travel believe it or not. Iceland is a fantastic example of this. Tourism has increased exponentially there and a large part of that is due to people posting out of this world pictures of the country. They've had a massive increase of chinese travelers due to this (check this out http://www.anna.aero/2017/01/25/reykjav ... -searches/ and discussion on the topic http://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1353879). Also, populations are probably growing in most cities that regional airlines serve (I would imagine. I could be wrong). So we have growing populations of people who more than ever interested in travelling. Due to this I imagine that aircraft up-gauging will be necessary anyways. Another interesting thing is how the regional landscape as changed in the US. Everyone is getting rid of their props and moving to jet service (E170's, CRJ's, etc) as well as cutting routes that simply aren't economical regardless if it's an essential service or not. Perhaps this could happen in Canada too. I could see Sky Regional expanding their Embraer fleet and hell maybe Jazz would even ditch the Q4 and focus on CRJ's only, but I doubt that. Because regional fleets will likely grow in aircraft size, I imagine that there will be some communities that will lose service since it just isn't viable with larger aircraft, even with less frequencies. Maybe we'll see the birth of new smaller regional airlines taking over these abandoned routes with older aircraft small enough to make the routes work.

Just some thoughts anyways. There's not really any research behind my post.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#3 Post by dhc# » Sun Feb 05, 2017 8:00 pm

The Dash 8 100/300s have been out of production for almost 10 yrs and those still wearing the Maple Leaf are some of the oldest still operating...same can be said for Beech 1900s....the ATR 42s seem a logical replacement, would it be stretch to see them being operated for the AC Express family ?
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#4 Post by Egres » Sun Feb 05, 2017 8:42 pm

If you look in the prop side you have the Q200 or ATR 42-600, and then in the jet side CRJ's and the ERJ's family with the 135 or 145...

It all come down to what's the more cost effective to operate I'm assuming the Q400 and Q200 would be under the same PPC so maybe that route?!?!
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#5 Post by fish4life » Sun Feb 05, 2017 9:26 pm

I believe the ATR 72 is only 8% more expensive to operate than the ATR 42 so I bet that the economics are similar on the Dash side although then Q4 is it's own category. If one has 10 routes that need a Q400 and 1 that needs a Dash classic it's probably cheaper to swallow the higher operating cost of the Q4 on that one route than the cost associated with a different type and set of crews etc of operating the classic on the 1 route and Q4 on the other 4.

That being said the ATR 72's I speak of have less power than the new 42's do so perhaps the old 72's are cheaper than the new 42's to run.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#6 Post by PostmasterGeneral » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:44 am

http://theflyingengineer.com/aircraft/p ... -vs-atr72/

Here is a good article on the Q400 vs ATR debate. Should put a lot of questions to rest.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#7 Post by plhought » Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:03 am

Egres wrote:If you look in the prop side you have the Q200 or ATR 42-600, and then in the jet side CRJ's and the ERJ's family with the 135 or 145...

It all come down to what's the more cost effective to operate I'm assuming the Q400 and Q200 would be under the same PPC so maybe that route?!?!
The -200 series Dash ('Q200' in marketing parlace) is no longer in production. Hasn't been for almost 15 years.

ATR 42s, CRJ/ERJs....It's all 80s with a little glass thrown on top. I'm surprised we haven't seen any new serious designs for a new 30-40 seat airplane popping up yet.

PW100 series power plant is great too, but I think customers of a successful new regional prop would require greater efficiency and fancy FADEC... Etc etc.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#8 Post by Egres » Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:05 pm

plhought wrote:
Egres wrote:If you look in the prop side you have the Q200 or ATR 42-600, and then in the jet side CRJ's and the ERJ's family with the 135 or 145...

It all come down to what's the more cost effective to operate I'm assuming the Q400 and Q200 would be under the same PPC so maybe that route?!?!
The -200 series Dash ('Q200' in marketing parlace) is no longer in production. Hasn't been for almost 15 years.

ATR 42s, CRJ/ERJs....It's all 80s with a little glass thrown on top. I'm surprised we haven't seen any new serious designs for a new 30-40 seat airplane popping up yet.

PW100 series power plant is great too, but I think customers of a successful new regional prop would require greater efficiency and fancy FADEC... Etc etc.


The Q200 may not be in production right now but if the demand is there I don't see why they wouldn't make some, for the moment it's just not worth it but as the older classic getting retired ?!?! Who knows
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#9 Post by PointyEngine » Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:12 am

Would be interesting to hear from someone who operates ATR72 aircraft commercially in Canada. With the increased length and narrow wheel base I wonder how they work out in the gusty, icey conditions frequently encountered. ATR42 sound like they're much more directionally stable, as with the Q400 with a much wider wheel base.

Then add on the goofey rear loading irritating pax who want sit at the front, and recommendations to not push back complicating airport operations.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#10 Post by fish4life » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:39 am

No issues with either ATR in gusty and less than ideal conditions. If I remember right 45kt crosswind for an ATR 42 and 38kts for the 72. The trailing link gear can be a bit "spongy" and being under the belly like it is the airplane acts a bit like a skateboard on the ground so you need to fly the plane with aileron control on the ground. It is actually very easy to make work and handle, the dash limit is is only 35kts I think and the larger dash tail causes it to want to weather cock into the wind a little more.

The worst part about crosswinds in the ATR is the rudder isn't hydraulic so if you want to keep it straight at taxi speeds you better work on your quad muscles. As soon as you are going over 30ish kts you don't even need your hand on the tiller though and she will stay straight with just rudder and aileron input.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#11 Post by EPR » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:37 am

There was a time when ATR's were just as common as Dash's, at least in the eastern half of the country.
Back when Canadian Airlines International had feeders from Air Atlantic, Inter-Canadien and Ontario Express.
The Canadian aviation scene pretty much follows what happens in the USA, only about 10-15 years behind in my opinion.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#12 Post by Gino Under » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:55 am

What a great question.

With a focus on pilot careers, here's my read on Canadian Regional Airline operations.

I'd begin by looking at scope clauses when considering the Express alliances around Air Canada.
The AC pilot group's voice will only get louder and stronger with regard to scope as a pilot shortage tightens its grip on the country and the company. Boiled down, it means to me at least, the scope clause is NOT going away and is likely to follow a direction similar to US airline pilot CBAs and only get tougher, stronger and more specific. Meaning, larger jets at Express carriers aren't going to happen any time soon. (I.e., the MRJ and E-jets are out of scope) But, the Express carriers are a readymade supply of pilots for Air Canada. In their recruiting process, Air Canada would be well advised to be mindful of this decreasing supply of pilots when turning down candidates. (careful with those PFO letters) Letter holders might very well tell AC to PFO at a later date when the tide turns. Who needs who more? (bring on the foreign pilots) Wait, hasn't Garneau already paved that road?

If Air Canada takes delivery of the C series, it will create an entirely new set of city pairings for them and by default, create a new route structure within the mainline and as a result, eliminate several DHC and EMB aircraft.

Beat up CRJs and EMBs are as economical as a beat up turbo props because of their current purchase price and range. We will have to wait for fuel prices to rise significantly before the economics between the two favour the turboprop. I believe by then, the Express carriers are likely to become smaller in size and operate only turboprops. We can debate DH8 versus ATR till the cows come home (Ok, my dogs bigger than your dog). The reality is, there is no 'new, latest technology' turboprop on the drawing board and it doesn't look like BBD or ATR have the appetite for such pursuits.

Westjet had no feed carrier to ally with or purchase and therefore had to create Encore. As they move away from their low cost model it places them in a questionable position. Should they continue to sustain quarterly profits they'll likely continue to do well, until the pilot shortage arrives at their doorstep. Deploying old widebodies while under going the introduction of an entirely different aircraft type while training cabin attendants and pilots, is a costly proposal. They'll likely weather that storm, but it's still a storm for their financial focus.

While everyone seems to be aware of an industry career stagnation and an ever decreasing number of career choices, the clock continues to tick off precious minutes. As it does, fewer students are learning to fly and old guys like me hit retirement. These facts alone contribute to an accelerated pilot shortage.

In my estimation, if Porter rewrites its business model, forgets about YTZ runway extension, finds a hub in the GTA, takes delivery of their (converts) LOI C series aircraft, they're the carrier to join with the greatest potential. At least here in Canada.

Express carriers will only peak in size (if they haven't already) then shrink. Who knows what that timetable will look like? In any event, tick, tock, tick, tock.

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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#13 Post by pilotguy2017 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:28 pm

I couldn't agree more with Gino but to add I'd simply say, the situation will become critical like it has in the US. Air Canada should wake up and start doing what American did with Envoy guaranteeing a spot at AC instead of this PML interview nonsense. Now we could only hope pilot is added to the TN visa list as that will light the fire for sure here in Canada under the current airlines hiring practices. Just my two cents.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#14 Post by ehbuddy » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:26 pm

With such a demand worldwide for 19 seat airplanes I am surprised Pilatus has not jumped in with a twin turbine 19 seater based on the PC12 and call it the PC19.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#15 Post by goingnowherefast » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:50 am

Is there a demand for new 19 seat aircraft? As much as I'd love to see a Beech "1900E" or Pilatus PC-19, I see a general trend across the whole industry for up-gauging. 1900/metro operators buying Dash-8s, Classic Dash operators getting Q400s and jets, etc. The only case I see where the opposite is true is for the 747 and A380 losing in favour of the 787 and A350. But that's got nothing to do with regional flying as discussed in this thread.

I see this up-gauging trend continuing with mainline CS100/300, E195s, and the like are going to start taking over routes previously flown by Q400s and CRJs at the regional level. How do you utilise fewer pilots and move the same amount of passengers? Use a bigger airplane! A route that used to see 6 Q400s daily, will have 4 CS100s.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#16 Post by 402_pilot » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:43 am

goingnowherefast wrote:I see this up-gauging trend continuing with mainline CS100/300, E195s, and the like are going to start taking over routes previously flown by Q400s and CRJs at the regional level. How do you utilise fewer pilots and move the same amount of passengers? Use a bigger airplane! A route that used to see 6 Q400s daily, will have 4 CS100s.
Air Canada has orders for CS300s, no mention of CS100s anywhere as far as I can tell.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#17 Post by YYCAME » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:03 am

I think in general we are just seeing the effects of the demand for lower fares on the regional market. It is cheaper to run 2 74-76 seat Q400 flights a day then 3 CRJ or Dash8-300 50 seaters because people are choosing price over time as the main factor when buying tickets.

That being said, the Jazz 300's life extension program is a pretty major overhaul that should keep them in service past 2030 if the 40,000 cycle extension rumor is true. Plus the new interiors, LED lighting, and other upgrades should make them a little more current. If they wanted to add the ANVS system to make them quieter that would be the time to do it.

I'm sure there was lots of discussion at the top about whether to buy new planes to fill that role but in the end it seems that a very expensive overhaul was seen as the better choice.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#18 Post by FAD3C » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:34 pm

goingnowherefast wrote:Is there a demand for new 19 seat aircraft? As much as I'd love to see a Beech "1900E" or Pilatus PC-19, I see a general trend across the whole industry for up-gauging. 1900/metro operators buying Dash-8s, Classic Dash operators getting Q400s and jets, etc. The only case I see where the opposite is true is for the 747 and A380 losing in favour of the 787 and A350. But that's got nothing to do with regional flying as discussed in this thread.

I see this up-gauging trend continuing with mainline CS100/300, E195s, and the like are going to start taking over routes previously flown by Q400s and CRJs at the regional level. How do you utilise fewer pilots and move the same amount of passengers? Use a bigger airplane! A route that used to see 6 Q400s daily, will have 4 CS100s.
I think there is a demand for a new 19 seater. However, new means expensive in today's world, and the 1900/metro/jetstream operators in the country may not be able to afford brand new 19 seaters. Going to Dash-8 or something similar will bring operating costs up as it requires these companies to go into 705 ops which is a whole different world than 704.
It would be nice to see a new 19 seater :wink:
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#19 Post by BingBong » Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:39 pm

The only nice place to see a new 19 seater would be airliners.net
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#20 Post by turbo-prop » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:11 am

http://www.vikingair.com/twin-otter-inf ... escription

Here is your new 19 seater airplane!!
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#21 Post by plhought » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:07 pm

Sorry, bombing around at the thundering speed of 140 kts whilst getting thrown around at 9000 ft is not my idea of a reasonable commuter aircraft. Toronto Island to Oshawa? Maybe. Calgary to Cranbrook/Cancelgar....'eck no.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#22 Post by Minimums » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:18 am

plhought wrote:Sorry, bombing around at the thundering speed of 140 kts whilst getting thrown around at 9000 ft is not my idea of a reasonable commuter aircraft. Toronto Island to Oshawa? Maybe. Calgary to Cranbrook/Cancelgar....'eck no.
Neither is doing 280 at 240 in a q getting beat around by tstorms and hard rookie landings, but hey, its what's cheap.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#23 Post by av8ts » Wed Mar 01, 2017 6:10 pm

Minimums wrote:
plhought wrote:Sorry, bombing around at the thundering speed of 140 kts whilst getting thrown around at 9000 ft is not my idea of a reasonable commuter aircraft. Toronto Island to Oshawa? Maybe. Calgary to Cranbrook/Cancelgar....'eck no.
Neither is doing 280 at 240 in a q getting beat around by tstorms and hard rookie landings, but hey, its what's cheap.
How about doing 320 in an Embraer getting beat around in turbulence at 370
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#24 Post by Minimums » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:39 pm

av8ts wrote:
Minimums wrote:
plhought wrote:Sorry, bombing around at the thundering speed of 140 kts whilst getting thrown around at 9000 ft is not my idea of a reasonable commuter aircraft. Toronto Island to Oshawa? Maybe. Calgary to Cranbrook/Cancelgar....'eck no.
Neither is doing 280 at 240 in a q getting beat around by tstorms and hard rookie landings, but hey, its what's cheap.
How about doing 320 in an Embraer getting beat around in turbulence at 370
Cause if your talking to high level your cool. And if not, well then, you're not.
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Re: Future of Regional Flying in Canada?

#25 Post by mbav8r » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:37 pm

Cause if your talking to high level your cool. And if not, well then, you're not.
Ummm, what?
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