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Battle of the Regionals – ERJ vs CSeries vs MRJ vs SSJ: Comparing the Products

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Battle of the Regionals – ERJ vs CSeries vs MRJ vs SSJ: Comparing the Products

Battle of the Regionals – ERJ vs CSeries vs MRJ vs SSJ: Comparing the Products
November 11
12:00 2015

MIAMI — In the First Part of this analysis, we provided an overview of the competitors in the large regional jet (RJ) and small mainline aircraft space. Next, we provide a comparative analysis of the products, beginning with their current order books and proceeding through capabilities and operating economics.

Current Backlogs


The Mitsubishi Regional Jet is in decent shape with a backlog of 223 orders (all for the larger MRJ90). Roughly 25% of its order base and 33% of its customer base is domestic, as both Japan Airlines and ANA have ordered the aircraft. The MRJ’s current customers are as follow:

  • Skywest Airlines – 100
  • Trans States Holdings – 50
  • Japan Airlines – 32
  • Eastern Air Lines – 20
  • ANA – 15
  • Air Mandalay – 6

The SSJ 100 has a backlog of 274 aircraft (76 frames have been delivered to date), split across several customers. The SSJ’s customer base is also largely domestic (16/31 = 51.6%), though some of these customers are lessors, who will likely look to place the aircraft outside of Russia. Large SSJ customers include:

  • Aeroflot – 50
  • Interjet – 30
  • Pearl Aircraft Corporation – 30
  • UTair – 24
  • Ilyushin Finance Co. – 20
  • Sberbank Leasing – 20

To date the Bombardier CSeries has 243 firm orders plus 108 outstanding commitments, split across a wide range of customers all over the world. The CS300 is currently outselling the CS100 roughly 4:1 (190 to 53), and neither of Canada’s two behemoths, Westjet and Air Canada, have purchased the aircraft yet (though the third largest carrier, Porter Airlines, has conditionally committed to the type). Big CSeries customers include:

  • Republic Airlines – 40 CS300
  • Macquarie Air Finance – 40 CS300
  • Ilyushin Finance Co. – 32 CS300
  • Swiss – 20 CS100, 10 CS300
  • Falko Regional Aircraft – 24 CS100 (commitment)
  • Zhejiang Loong Airlines – 20 CS100 (commitment)
  • Lease Corporation International – 3 CS100, 17 CS300
  • flymojo – 20 CS100 (commitment)

The Embraer EJets E2 have a backlog of 325 aircraft, split amongst 7 customers and favoring the E175-E2, which has 150 firm orders versus 85 for the E190-E2 and 90 for the E195-E2. The customers for the aircraft (all current EJet operators) include:

  • Skywest Airlines – 100 E175-E2
  • ILFC – 25 E190-E2, 25 E195-E2
  • Air Costa – 25 E190-E2, 25 E195-E2
  • Trans States Holdings – 100 E175-E2
  • Tianjin Airlines – 20 E190-E2
  • Azul – 30 E195-E2
  • Aircastle – 15 E190-E2, 10 E195-E2

Seating Capacity and Comfort


While real-world capacity comparisons are difficult given that all but the SSJ have yet to EIS and are complicated by varying OEM standards for seat pitch in their marketing configurations, our best estimates for single-class capacity for these aircraft are as follow:

  • MRJ70: 70
  • E175-E2: 88
  • MRJ90: 92
  • SSJ: 105
  • E190-E2: 106
  • CS100: 110
  • E195-E2: 132
  • CS300: 140

The MRJ is a little larger than the E175/CRJ-900/E175-E2 which means that it could seat 4-6 more passengers (say 80-82) for a typical US regional carrier, scope-clause permitting. The SSJ and CSeries are five-abreast while the E-Jets E2 and MRJ are four-abreast. In terms of comfort, seat widths are all similar, so it’s mostly about personal preference and airline-specific pitch choices. Overall, in terms of passenger comfort, the lack of any middle seats on the E-Jets and MRJ might seem like a win initially, but when load factors worldwide are 70-80%, especially in Winter months, having an empty middle seat in the CSeries and SSJ becomes a real possibility, which then represents a jump in comfort over a 2-2 layout. In first class, the wider CSeries and SSJ cabins are offset by a likely 4-abreast configuration. So overall it’s a wash.

Range


Our analysis of ranges for these aircraft does not consider the published ranges, but rather a band of 75-85% of those ranges, which represents the actual real world capabilities of these aircraft. This analysis utilizes the longest range variants for SSJ and MRJ.

  • E175-E2: 1,400-1,600 nm
  • MRJ90: 1,350 – 1,500 nm
  • SSJ100: 1,800-2,100 nm
  • E190-E2: 2,100-2,400nm
  • CS100: 2,500 – 2,800 nm
  • E195-E2: 1,500-1,700 nm
  • CS300: 2,600 – 3,000 nm

For these aircraft, there are distinct classes of range capabilities. The E175-E2 and MRJ90 are regional jets in every sense of the world, meant to operate short routes roughly typified by mid continental flights in the United States (i.e. most domestic flights from Dallas Fort Worth). The E195-E2 and SSJ100 have the range to operate mainline trunk routes but not quite to operate trans-continental US routes (though the SSJ gets closer). The E190-E2 is right on the edge of trans-con capabilities though regularly scheduled service might result in unscheduled fuel stops (much like the A320 today). The CSeries is simply a cut above. The CS100 has better than transcontinental range, and is a real option for West Coast – Hawaii routes. The CS300 meanwhile now has range that borders on trans-Atlantic (New York JFK – London Heathrow is on the edge of its performance envelope at 2,999 nm) thanks to recent performance improvements.

Operating Costs


To get a better idea of how these aircraft compare, we performed a detailed economic analysis of these aircraft, current generation competitors, and the Boeing 737-7 MAX and the Airbus A319neo. All data in this analysis is for a 600 nautical mile mission, which is within the typical small mainline mission profile and slightly longer than the normal RJ mission.

Fuel Burn


We calculated fuel burn on a per-seat basis, as shown in the the chart above. The data is pretty straightforward, as the MRJ90 is clearly better than E175-E2 on this metric. E190-E2 is just slightly ahead of CS100 despite its capacity disadvantage due to the CS100’s higher operating empty weight (OEW) which pushes up fuel burn. Both aircraft are significantly better than the SSJ100, which suffers from the previously mentioned engined deficiency. The CS300 comes in slightly ahead of the E195-E2 mostly due to its capacity advantage, with both aircraft notably outstripping the re-engined Boeing and Airbus products despite their much higher seating capacity.

Maintenance


In terms of maintenance costs, the MRJ comes in 6-8% better than the E175-E2. Amongst larger aircraft, the CS100 and CS300 are slightly worse than the E190-E2 and E195-E2 respectively, but within a couple of percentage points on a per-seat basis. The SSJ technically comes in at ~3-4% worse than the Bombardier and Embraer products but there’s an uncertainty penalty on that 3-4% number. Airlines in the West just don’t trust Sukhoi’s support and parts network, and until they prove that reliability, a few additional percentage points will have to be added to Sukhoi’s figure for airline planning and decision making.

Crew Costs


Because these aircraft tend to be close to one another in terms of seating capacity, flight and cabin crew costs will be pretty similar for the MRJ and E175-E2, as well as for the CS100/E190-E2/SSJ100, and for the CS300/E195-E2. Airline specific vagaries based on contract negotiations and service patterns might change this some, but by and large crew costs are similar within the specific size profiles.

Landing/Navigation Fees


Adjusted for network specific effects (like having lots of flights at expensive, slot-controlled airports), these figures are largely driven by weight, and accordingly, a comparison of MTOW provides a good summary of the likely relationships. The MTOWs for these aircraft are as follow:

  • MRJ90 – 42.8 metric tons
  • E175-E2 – 44.3 metric tons
  • SSJ100 – 49.5 metric tons
  • E190-E2 – 56.9 metric tons
  • CS100 – 60.7 metric tons
  • E195-E2 – 59.4 metric tons
  • CS300 – 67.6 metric tons

Based on these figures, the MRJ90 has a small advantage over the E175-E2, and the SSJ100 has a major advantage over the E190-E2, which is itself substantially ahead of the CS100. The E195-E2 also has major advantage over the CS300. But its important to remember that in the grand scheme of things, landing and navigation fees just aren’t that important. They are dwarfed by other cost line items, and larger MTOWs frequently mean better performance (i.e. for the CSeries) and more revenue potential (higher payload).

Capital Costs


Capital costs are of course affected by a myriad of factors, including whether the airline chooses to lease or buy the aircraft, its access to credit, the exchange rates for its local currency, and others. However, a good external signal for capital costs is list prices, adjusting for the fact that different OEMs have different tactics in terms of what is included in the actual listed price of its aircraft (for example some OEMs include interiors and seats, others do not). Even if these are nowhere near the actual price that will be paid by airlines (a good rule of thumb is to apply a 35-55% discount), they do provide a metric of relative comparisons. For these aircraft, list prices are as follow:

  • MRJ90 – $42 million
  • E175-E2 – $46.8 million
  • SSJ – $36.2 million
  • E190-E2 – $53.6 million
  • CS100 – $62 million
  • E195-E2 – $60.4
  • CS300 – $71 million

All of these currencies have lost value against the dollar in recent months, but the effect has been particularly sharp in Russia, where the Ruble to Dollar conversion rate has more than halved, and Brazil where the Real has cratered. These currency effects could make the Sukhoi and Embraer products relatively more attractive. Real world considerations of capital costs are weighted by utilization (i.e. spreading a monthly lease or depreciation across more or fewer seat-miles. However, all of the aircraft cruise at similar speeds at around Mach 0.78 (roughly 514 miles per hour), so potential utilization is not significantly different for any of them. The clear advantages in this metric are to the Embraer products over the Bombardier products, especially given Bombardier’s relative inflexibility on pricing given its overall financial woes and corporate culture.

Overall – Trip Costs


Inclusive of capital costs, MRJ90 beats the E175-E2 on trip cost by a few percentage points, but its within the margin where the aircraft are tossups, especially for airlines that have commonality with existing fleets of E170s and E175s. The E190-E2 surpasses the CS100 on trip costs by 4-6 percentage points, and the SSJ is roughly at parity with the E190-E2, mainly due to capital costs, and helped by the low present price of fuel. Finally, the E195-E2 has lower trip costs than the CS300, mostly on the strength of capital costs, but the overall gap is 2-3%.

Overall – Unit Costs


Once the analysis shifts to per seat metrics such as cost per available seat mile (CASM), some trip cost advantages flip. The MRJ90 is still 3-4% better than the E175-E2 on CASM and its margin expands as fuel prices increase. The E190-E2 is slightly (1-2%) better than the CS100 on CASM and 2-3% better than the SSJ100 on CASM. All of these margins expand with higher fuel prices. The CS300 is 2-3% better than the E195-E2, though much go this is seat-capacity driven. Higher fuel prices would benefit Bombardier, as they have the more efficient airframe.

 

 

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Vinay Bhaskara

Vinay Bhaskara

Senior Business Analyst, Big Airline Enthusiast, Avid Airport Connoisseur, Frequent Flyer, Globetrotter. I Miss Northwest Airlines Every Day. vinay@airwaysmag.com @TheABVinay

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