Bombardier is exiting commercial aviation. The company already is under contract to sell the Q400. It’s CRJ program is for sale, or lacking any, inevitably headed for termination.
Embraer agreed to spin off its Commercial Aviation division into a new joint venture with Boeing. Its E-175 E2, designed with changes to the US Scope Clause in mind, is too heavy to comply with contract restrictions. The predecessor, the E-175 E1, is Scope-compliant but it also is aging technology.
Neither the Sukhoi SSJ100 nor the COMAC ARJ-21 are serious competitors.
Mitsubishi, beset by five of delays that pushed its MRJ90 seven years behind schedule, has been dismissed by most as too little, too late, too heavy and not Scope compliant.
Yet MITAC, as Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp is known, has quietly reworked the MRJ into a Scope-compliant “concept” aircraft that will be revealed at the Paris Air Show next month.
Officials said the aircraft, the name for which hasn’t yet been revealed, will be the only new generation, Scope-compliant aircraft, positioning Mitsubishi to become a key player in the regional aircraft industry.
Executives teased the concept aircraft at the official grand opening Friday of its new offices in Renton (WA).
LNA’s Bryan Corliss reports on the details today. In a nutshell, the concept aircraft—this is what it’s called, for now—is billed as a combination of comfort and economy, something that OEM’s pretty much always say.
What is more significant, from an industry perspective, is that MITAC is on the cusp of becoming a key player in the RJ industry.
Embraer is in transition. E2 family sales have been slower than hoped and the future of the E-175 E2 has doubts hanging over it because it’s not Scope-compliant. What Boeing plans to do with the joint venture, in which it will own 80% and have governing control, remains a matter of speculation. (Perhaps some indication will come when EMB hosts reporters this month for its pre-Paris Air Show briefing.)
MITAC points out that there is a surge RJ retirements coming next decade for which the MRJ, in its Concept and MRJ90 will benefit. The same is true for Embraer’s E-Jet. The E-190/195 E2 is not suited for the Scope-restricted US market, but there are very few pilot contract restrictions elsewhere.
The E-175 E1 is Embraer’s continuing answer for the US market, but it’s equipped with old generation engines that have high maintenance costs. MITAC officials clearly expect their airplane, with the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan, will have a significant economic advantage that will render the E1 obsolete.
With no information coming from Boeing or Embraer yet about the future of the new JV, or NewCo as it is called for now, speculation is widespread about what the company’s future will be.
It’s been acknowledged that Embraer’s engineering resources will play a key role in the Boeing NMA program, should Boeing launch the New Midmarket Aircraft. Undoubtedly the JV will also become a key supplier, given Boeing’s trend toward vertical integration and Brazil’s lower cost base.
But what of the E2 future and new airplanes from Brazil?
There has been market speculation for months that the E-175 E2 may not be built. There is a notable absence of information from Embraer about the progress of the production of the first flight test airplane.
The MOU for the JV assigns NewCo with the responsibility for all new Boeing airplanes of 150 or fewer seats, but what does this mean?
A new jet, following the E2, will be at least a decade away. Boeing officials don’t want to do two concurrent airplane programs after the financial debacles of the 787 and 747-8 concurrent development; NMA will take precedence over an “E3.”
It’s known that Embraer has been talking with the market about a new, advanced turboprop of 70 and 90 seats. But the market demand is small and the ROI economics are challenging, especially in today’s relatively low fuel-price environment.
Is Boeing really going to want to get into the turboprop business? This is questionable.
With doubts over the E-175 E2, an aging E-175 E1, Bombardier’s pending exit from commercial aviation and poor market penetration from Sukhoi and COMAC, MITAC appears emerging to be well-positioned to become a key player in the regional jet industry.
Although hardly intended, the seven years of delays and painful development of the MRJ actually have worked to Mitsubishi’s benefit. Had the plane been on time with an entry into service in 2013, the market forces it would have faced then would have been far different than they will be when the MRJ90 enters service next year. A convergence of events now means MITAC is poised to be part of a duopoly, not player No. 3.