9:36 PM

Knowing when
to say you're wrong.

A couple of posts ago, I lamented about a rather botched commercial airline flight I experienced trying to get home to EUG from SFO. United said they were bringing in our “regional jet” all the way from Calgary, Alberta (1,019NM), which I thought was hooey since I thought RJs didn't have the legs for that kind of route.

Well, friends, I have to now admit I was speaking out of an orifice of unspeakable locale. Here is why:

When the Canadair Regional Jet appeared on the commercial airline scene, I was blown away. It took off like it was strapped to an Saturn V rocket – it was fast, smooth and comfortable. It was also very efficient, which I assumed would translate into profits for its operators. But back in those days, riding an RJ for an LAX to SEA run seemed like a stretch...the CRJ-100 was just not thought of as the airframe of choice for seriously long routes.
But the brainchildren at Bombardier have been eating their Wheaties it seems, because the original -100 line has evolved into the very capable -700 line with range as high as 2,002NM for the 701LR (long range) model. And since you asked, a little history on the RJ, courtesy of wikipedia:
The Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) is a regional airliner based on the Canadair Challenger business jet. Design studies began in 1987, with the first prototype flying on May 10, 1991. Canadair officials decided that the wide fuselage of the Challenger suggested it would be straightforward to stretch the aircraft to provide more seats, and there was a plan for a 24 pax Challenger 610E, a project that was cancelled in 1981. The formal launch of the Canadair Regional Jet program came in the spring of 1989, with the first of three development machines for the initial CRJ-100 performing its first flight on 10 May 1991. The type obtained certification in late 1992, with initial delivery to customers late in that year.
I have a good friend who is married to a Skywest FO, and she confirmed last week that what used to be truly “regional” use for the RJ is no more. The line keeps their CRJ-700's in the air cranking out revenue, no matter where the nose of the airplane is aimed, instead of being parked at a gate. It is not uncommon for the same RJ to traverse the country several times in a week, she said, and with hubby strapped to the right seat of one of them, she ought to know.

So my official apologies to United, they did get us home that night, a few hours late but with all our body parts still attached and our luggage in the hold. And when you get right down to it, isn't that all we can really ask of them?

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