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 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.
“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.
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.
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.”