Mitsubish renaming, revamping MRJ, considers US production line: Nikkei Asia news

Updated, 3pm Brazil time, with Bombardier statement and additional response from Embraer.

May 29, 2019, © Leeham News, Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil: Mitsubishi is changing the name of its MRJ jet, revamping the smallest version and considering a US production line, the Japanese news agency Nikkei Asia Review reported May 29 (Japan time).

The MRJ is now called SpaceJet.

The report comes on the final day of the Embraer Paris Air Show Media Days and just before the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Assn., which opens June 1 in Seoul.

It’s unknown if the timing of the leak is deliberate or coincidental.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp (MITAC) hinted at changes to the airplane at a press briefing in April at its new Renton (WA) US headquarters.

Timing and events appear to be converging to boost the new MITAC jet.

Revamping jet

“Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is revamping its long-delayed Mitsubishi Regional Jet project to concentrate on a smaller model for the U.S. market — and dropping its own name from the aircraft to reflect a more global vision for a previously Japan-centric business,” Nikkei wrote.

The new name is SpaceJet, Nikkei reports. This apparently is an allusion to the spacious interior displayed at a previous air show in a mock up.

Nikkei reports that MITAC will have a “drastic” redesign of the MRJ70, intended to be fully compliant with the US Scope Clause, a restriction in US pilot contracts that limit the weight of the airplane, passengers carried and the number of airplanes that may be operated for legacy major airlines by regional partners.

Exceeding Scope limit

The MRJ90 is too heavy for the 86,000 lb weight limit. The MRJ70 has been criticized as too heavy for its passenger count, 70, although it is Scope compliant.

Two US regional airlines, Skywest and Trans States, ordered 150 MRJ90s conditioned on Scope relief. Relief is not coming in the 2019-20 contract negotiations, so MITAC has to fall back to the MRJ70 and persuade the carriers to switch.

Embraer’s E175-E2 is also not Scope compliant. Like the MRJ90, it exceeds the contract limitations in Scope. Skywest conditionally ordered 100 E175-E2s, also predicated on Scope relief. Embraer has removed this order from its backlog, due to accounting rules, and instead is focusing on selling its Scope-compliant, older E175-E1 into the US market.

Bombardier’s CRJ900 is also Scope compliant, but it is aging and Bombardier has made it clear it wants to exist commercial aviation.

More US parts, possible US production

Nikkei reports that MITAC is expanding its US supplier procurement to cut costs and that officials are considering establishing a US production site.

No details were included in the article.

MITAC is expected to reveal details at the Paris Air Show in two weeks.

John Slattery, CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation, isn’t worried.

“With the decline of Bombardier in the commercial aviation market it is natural that Mitsubishi will want to grow their presence,” he wrote in an email tom LNA. “But EIS in 2022, with potential additional delays, and the lack of a reliable customer support structure give us confidence that the E175 will continue to be well positioned for the US market.

The Embraer media day resumes at 9:30am today in Brazil. LNA is at the meeting and will seek reaction.

Bombardier issued this statement to LNA:

For Mitsubishi or any other OEM, it takes years to design and develop a market presence. It is not only about having access to the technology, but rather the knowledge of selling, supporting, developing, producing and managing a supply chain. 

 With over 140 owners and operators flying people in over 90 countries, the CRJ Series family remains a leader in the 60- to 100-seat market, which is our focus, unlike our competitors. Embraer is exiting the sub-100 seat-market and is trying to compete in the small single-aisle one with their E2, and their E175-E2 is not compliant in North America. Irrespective of this fact, the CRJ Series remains the most successful regional aircraft with over 1900 orders, has the widest support network and market base.

The CRJ Series is flexible and capable of offering solutions for airlines in the tough regional market and is the cost leader with or without scope clause in the U.S.

 Embraer responded to Bombardier’s claim the former is exiting the sub-100 seat market:

“The current E175 is the best-seller of the E-Jets family with more than 770 orders from airlines and lessors around the world, and almost 200 orders still in backlog (data from March 31st). Since January 2013, Embraer has sold more than 565 E175s to airlines only in North America, earning more than 80% of all orders in the 70-76-seat jet category, and the Company remains committed to the segment.”

19 Comments on “Mitsubish renaming, revamping MRJ, considers US production line: Nikkei Asia news

  1. Interesting! Hope they can convince the bigger operators. Those want convincing solid long term propositions, not the entrepreneurial opportunities. Maybe they can produce te MRJ in Mobile?

    Seriously, Airbus could concentrate Regionals as a seperate division in the America’s. Striking a deal with MITAC or alternatively revamping the CRJ (NEO / capacity).

    https://groups.google.com/group/aviation_innovation/attach/4c68005923123/CRJ-800%20Passport.jpg?part=0.2&view=1&authuser=0

    The MRJ seems a nice platform. I hope it gets the chance to be produced in large numbers.

    • Keesje:

      Agreed your idea to consolidate regionals in a division is a very good one.

      Boeing should do that. With Embraer tie up they are in it fully. Its a different area for sure.

      Airbus is in the odd position they really don’t have a regional jet, they have a Trans Con out of scope with the A220 and getting more so by the tonnage increase.

      ATR is an orphan.

      • Orphan with 1500 sales. In the mis- remembered words of Crocodile Dundee- ‘Thats no orphan’
        The parents are quite well connected too..Airbus and Leonardo

        Now that Airbus have their own 110 plus seater , maybe they will allow ATR to do a 85-90 seater. Leonardo seems to be keen ( they produce fuselage and tail) but Airbus werent. ( their subsidiary Stelia makes the wings).
        https://leehamnews.com/2016/05/03/atr-begins-us-tour-wants-divorce-airbus/

        Maybe a deal is there for Airbus to exit the TP market if Leonardo is wanting more control and a FAL.
        Airbus in its days as EADS used to have a large stake in Embraer which was sold in 2007 showing how things can change.

        • Duke: Airbus wants nothing to do with the ATR, they won’t put any money into it (not sure if they are right or wrong, no idea what their ROI is)

          They inherited it and look down on it with disdain. They won’t sell the line out to Leonardo and they won’t upgrade it any more than forced tgo.

          So much like the Q series, they let it limp along and eventually Chinese come along and take it out.

          Yes its a fairly successful program, but those 1500 are also over a 38 year span – ok for Textron BBD but Airbus?

          If BBD had not dropped the ball sales would have been half.

          The Q can go fast or slow, ATR can only go slow and its altitude and route limited in parts of the world.

          With the Q sold Viking may well return it to where it should have been.

          Those type aircraft don’t sell in the numbers Boeing and Airbus want these days.

    • Nice idea. However, I have thought the CRJ is a candidate for an Open Rotor re-engining…

      • The TP fits the definition of ‘open rotor’ doesnt it. At this size of plane its just ‘re-inventing the wheel.’

        • TP is not considered and open rotor, its a geared drive not a direct.

          That said, open rotor is inherent flawed and is not viable on 737/A320 class aircraft where the cost is not as important. It’s mounting and location cause issues in weight let alone the noise that are insurmountable.

          TPs live on the margin where a jet is not efficient and they get more efficient all the time and a TP still has all the jet parts to deal wit plug the gears and prop to maintain.

          An open rotor is not remotely a concept for aircraft that sell 30 or so a year.

          • Agree that an open rotor probably won’t debut first on a low-volume plane, but disagree about the rest. ATRs and the Q400 manage to mount 13-foot diameter propellers. Open rotors will be about that size, or maybe little larger (14 to 15 feet), so the 737/A320 replacements should be able to handle them.

            Noise and vibration are fixable problems. When it was trying to sell derivatives with GE’s unducted fans, McDonnell Douglas invited airline execs and media onto their test flights in the 1980s, and it was received well.

            https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1988/1988%20-%200327.PDF

            The principal sensation gained as Flight’s reporter took a seat at the back of the MD-80/UHB demonstrator, just forward of the idling GE36, was of a light vibration, felt principally through the seat. While it was barely enough to cause ripples in a beaker of water, the vibration (which we were told has an amplitude of around 20Hz) continued throughout takeoff and climb, but virtually disappeared as we reached the cruise sector of the 50min flight (when the aircraft was flying at 33,000ft and Mach 0-76), McDonnell Douglas and GE are working on a number of improvements to achieve the promised “completely vibration-free cabin environment”.

          • Open rotor is moving on and problem after problem are worked on pretty suessfully, SFC great, Noice Stage 4 no problems, Cruising speed close to M0.8, Nacelle cost minimal, cost of purhase I imagine we are at X 2 now compared to a LEAP 1-A, maintenance cost of operation including life limited parts x 3 assuming 2 rows of life limited rotor blades in addition to all disks, rotating seals/drums/housing. You also need a purpose built aircraft to install the engine, maybe a A400Mneo demo aircraft with a bigger span, high speed wing design for 2ea 140″ rotor diameter 25 000shp engines using the LEAP 1-A core engines. Maybe RR will do it slightly smaller with the BR725/Pearl engine as core, Dowty carbon counter rotating fan, Filton made wings and using RR new reduction gear for a Marshall Aerospace PIP’ed A400GB aircraft.

  2. Left unsaid is the gloppy relationship that Boeing and Mitsubishi has had.,

    With the Embraer are tie up MRJ is a competitor not a side show.

    Time line wise it depends on if MRJ 76 is a fluff piece show rename and interior and the same bird and if so they can get it into production quickly as a lot of the testing is done on the 90.

    It does have the GTF that the scope Embraer does not and there are pips coming that will make it better still.

    Mosses Lake would be a great production site. Lots of low cost land, great airport, good weather (hot in the summer but not the god awful humidity of Alabama!) .

    Lots of disaffected Beoing workers top start a good core program with.

  3. I wonder if the Learjet facilities in Wichita will be available for a final assembly line, especially if Mitac buys out the CRJ business for its sales and product support people and facilities. Yes Bombardier is keeping its business jet business but production is slow at Lear

    • Good thought. Kansas is not all the appealing but they do have a core of aircraft technicians (or did)

      Moses Lake is safe though

      • Only 20,000 people in a fairly isolated location, 3 hrs drive through the
        Cascade Range mountains and over the Snoqualmie pass ( average snowfall 400 in) from Seattle.

  4. There was an article on flightglobal that Rolls Royce is working on family of Pearl engines. Is bombardier thinking of re-engining CRJ with Pearl engines while keep the re-engine within same current nacelle size. Bombardier has already ruled out GTF for CRJ’s as it is too heavy for regional lift
    And will take the CRJ out of clause.

    • BBD is working to dumping the CRJ.

      The next owner may look at options but only if there are sales to be had.

      It has to compete against an MRJ with much better economics on fuel burn.

      • better economics ?
        When you compare like for like, the similar length CRJ900 with the MRJ90.
        You have the older plane at 48,000lb OWE, while the newer MRJ is 57,000lb. By comparison the similar old E190 is 61,000lb.
        Thats a significant amount. Maybe the MRJ drag is less with careful design and optimising FBW, but it has a larger fuselage diameter – and a bigger fan to increase drag.

        Seems like there is some life in the old boy yet.

  5. Pearl, passport etc engines are designed for long range business jets, with maybe 6-10 hr flights and about 400 hrs flying per year.
    Nothing like short range flights ,about 6 per day and 3500 hrs per year. That requires substantial redesign and beefing up. No longer good enough to slap on a civil engine on a large business jet like they did with the ironic Gulfstream

    • Dornier 328 Jet used PW306B which is pretty much the same engine as PW306A and PW306C except B model was mounted from top while A and C were side mounted. So it has been done before.

      • You can beef them up and get them to work.

        Is it worth the effort? Competing against a 175 or an MRJ probably not.

        Using the best you can get on existing and selling at lower price would be the CRJ niche.

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