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One of the best-selling commercial aircraft in history was designed and produced in Quebec, Canada for nearly 30 years. But now, the very last unit of the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) waits for his engines before being delivered to Delta Airlines.
In the CRJ plant in Mirabel, the last CRJ aircraft, which is the 1945th product, is at the end of the assembly line. It waits for his engines, be painted, interior installed, before proceeding with flight tests.
The American carrier Delta Air Lines will take delivery of it in a few weeks.
Bombardier created the regional jet market in 1989 when it launched the CRJ Series aircraft that transformed the industry with their pioneering cost efficiency and exceptional operating economics.
With its CRJ200 (50 seats), CRJ700 (65 seats), CRJ900 (76 seats) and CRJ1000 (100 seats) versions, the CRJ is became one of the most successful lines of commercial aircraft, just behind the famous Boeing 737 family aircraft and Airbus A320 family aircraft.
In 2017, Bombardier boasted that a CRJ took off or landed every five seconds, anywhere in the world.
“For me, the last plane is like the first,” says Amar El Tarazi, noting that the quality requirements are the same for each aircraft produced.
What a long way it has come since Bombardier’s decision in March 1989 to launch the development of the CRJ from the Challenger business jet. The CRJ made its first flight in 1991 and entered service in 1992
The Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Heavy Industries acquired the CRJ program from Bombardier for about $550 million in cash, plus the assumption of $200 million in liabilities in order to stem it own aircraft production called “SpaceJet”.
MHI scrapped the CRJ aircraft production in favor of the company’s own regional aircraft Spacejet. In future, Mitsubishi will only produce spare parts for CRJ series aircraft and will maintain service and maintenance.
“Certainly when we see the last plane disappear at the end of the runway, there are a lot of people who, if they don’t shed tears, it won’t be far,” says Ghislain Grandchamp, inspector at Bombardier.