A new combi enters service

Bombardier delivered its first Q400 combi to Japan's Ryukyu Air Commuter.

Bombardier delivered its first Q400 combi to Japan’s Ryukyu Air Commuter.

Ryukyu Air Commuter took delivery of Bombardier’s first Q400 combi.

When Bombardier launched the Q400 Combi program in 2014, it said it had a launch order from an unidentified customer, but it kept that customer’s identity under wraps until just three months ago, when it announced Ryukyu’s order for five of the type.

Ryukyu Air Commuter is a regional subsidiary of the Japan Airlines Group, serving the southern Okinawa islands from its base in Naha, with a small fleet of Bombardier turboprops – four Dash 8-100s, and one Q300.

Japan is a bit of an oddity in the cargo world. The part of the country most people think of as “Japan” is densely populated and well served by roads, but the country has huge domestic air freight demand. Why? Because Japan is a chain of islands stretching 2,500 km, and while the main island of Honshu, as well as many of the dozens of smaller islands have excellent road networks, air is the only way to move goods quickly between the islands.

As can be seen in the picture, the Q400 combi’s cargo compartment is in the rear. It offers up to 32.5 cubic meters of volume and a payload of up to 4 tonnes (9,000 lbs). The forward compartment can accomodate up to 58 passengers, depending on seat pitch. List price is about $33.6 million.

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