5/27/1999: Maiden Flight of the CRJ700

This is the story of the 70-seat stretched version of the popular CRJ200 Bombardier aircraft.



May 27, 2023

DALLAS — Today in Aviation, the prototype Bombardier CRJ700 (C-FRJX) operated its maiden flight in 1999.

The 70-seat aircraft was a stretch of the popular CRJ200. The type was officially launched in January 1997, following an order for four examples from French regional carrier Brit Air (DB). By the time of its first flight, the 700 series had 96 firm orders and 140 options. 

Envoy Air's Ric Wilson is pictured at the Bombardier Facilities in Montreal, Canada. Photo: Envoy Air.

A Booming Market

The type's launch came when plane makers such as Bombardier, Embraer, and Fairchild Aerospace were battling to rule the booming 70/100 seat regional jet market. 

Speaking at the time, Bombardier President Bob Brown said that the jet's launch "completes the company's family of regional aircraft."

Bombardier opened a new manufacturing line at its Montreal Mirabel Airport facility. This was the home of the CRJ200, although there was insufficient space to build this stretched variant. 

The type was awarded certification by Transport Canada on December 22, 2000. On January 31, 2001, the first aircraft was delivered to DB and entered service a month later, flying on behalf of Air France (AF). 

The prototype CRJ1000 was pictured during flight testing. Photo: moonm, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


The CRJ 700 would be stretched to create the 86-seat CRJ900 and later the 100-seat CRJ1000, launched in February 2007.

The CRJ Series was marketed alongside a family of larger jets, the CSeries (now majority-owned by Airbus and marketed as the Airbus A220), and a twin-turboprop, the QSeries (now owned by De Havilland Canada and marketed as the Dash 8). Bombardier attempted to sell off several of its aircraft programs in the late 2010s.

In 2019, Bombardier sold the CRJ aircraft line to Mitsubishi. The Japanese manufacturer, which had provided the aft fuselage of the jet, announced it would be ending production of the type to focus on its own M90 "Spacejet" program. 

The final CRJ, a -900 series (N840SK), was delivered to SkyWest Airlines (OO) on February 28, 2021.


Featured image: American Eagle (SkyWest Airlines) N753EV Bombardier CRJ-700. Photo: Saul Hannibal/Airways