How is the transition from the Q400 to the CRJ? Other than the differences between prop and jet controls and whatnot, is the cockpit layout the same (or very similar), as both are made by Bombardier?
This is the best way I can explain it: All of the problems with the Q400 stem from the fact that it’s a common type rating with the 100-300 series. Therefore a lot of the systems were originally designed for a much smaller airplane and just aren’t robust enough to handle the size that airplane. All of the problems with the CRJ stem from it being rushed into production so Bombardier could corner the regional jet market. Therefore most of the problems are fixed in the 700/900, which are great airplanes. The 200, however, is a bit of of a hog.
The CRJ is incredibly easy to fly compared to the Q400. The hardest thing for me to get used to thus far is that the CRJ has entirely hydraulic flight controls whereas the Q400 has a combination of hydraulic and mechanically linked controls. The result is that the Q400 has a much heaver control feel and the CRJ is unbelievably touchy in comparison. They say the roll rate of the CRJ is equal to that of the F-16 (and I believe it). I’ve done a couple 1 G rolls in the way of inadvertent spoiler deployment at altitude as well as wake turbulence upset. You blink and you’re upside down; it literally happens that fast. It’s pretty amazing. Though honestly the biggest difference between the two is the complete lack of necessity for any rudder input in the CRJ. You fly with your feet on the floor. Any minute pitch or power change in the Q400 means an enormous change in rudder input due to the gyroscopic precession of those 13.5 ft discs of co-rotating metal on the wings. I swear you use the rudder trim in that airplane more than any other switch and the yaw dampers are essentially for show. The only time I’m even vaguely aware of the rudder in the CRJ is during a crosswind landing or a V1 cut, and then it’s still fairly docile.
The cockpit layouts are fairly similar in the ways that most transport category aircraft are. They fly similar speeds below 10,000ft (though the CRJ can climb faster and has about an extra 50 knots of play downhill). They have similar electrical systems, though the CRJ is slightly more complicated. The autopilot in the CRJ is vastly superior. The autopilot in the Q400 had some of the most ridiculous limitations. The FMS in the CRJ is superior (I think) but I’m still getting used to it. The hydraulics and pneumatics in the CRJ are superior, though the bleeds were easier to work in the Q400 compared to the CRJ200. The environmental controls in both are awful. Seriously, prepare to be either burning up or freezing and there’s probably nothing we can do about it. Landing the CRJ…oh man. Lets just say trailing link landing gear fix many mistakes. If you can’t get a greaser in a CRJ200 you should probably just go drive a cab. Landing the Q400 was like landing a shopping cart. A good landing was one where your teeth didn’t hurt afterwards from the impact.
I’m making a lot of assumptions from just the simulator though. I’ll be able to confirm all this when I actually get in a real one next month.