'SpaceJets': Mitsubishi Rebrands Its Regional Jet Line
Mitsubishi is rebranding its line of regional jets, using "SpaceJets" as the new name for its MRJ aircraft.
Mitsubishi is a relatively new player in the regional jet market, where it's hoping to make inroads against more-established giants Bombardier and Embraer.
The first plane debuted by the company, now the SpaceJet M90, was originally known as the MRJ90 during development. The M90 will be the first SpaceJet aircraft to enter the commercial market, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2020. It is currently being tested for operation by both Japanese authorities and the FAA in Washington state, where the company opened a new US headquarters in May.
The second plane is smaller and will be designated as the SpaceJet M100. The M100 grew out of the now-retired MRJ70 test configuration. Mitsubishi says the plane will be well suited for the American regional market in a three-class configuration, capable of transporting anywhere from 66 to 88 passengers, depending on the seating layout.
Mitsubishi claims its new aircraft will be quieter and more efficient than current options in the regional jet segment. The company also says the M100 would offer the most spacious cabin out of any available regional aircraft, with room for an overhead bag for every passenger.
The competitive regional jet marketplace could prove difficult for the Japanese manufacturer, said Samuel Engel, aviation specialist and vice president of the aviation group at the ICF consultancy.
"What they’re overlooking is that the 76-seat segment is currently full served and the current pilot negotiations are unlikely to lead to much change," Engel said in a statement. "Mitsubishi is therefore limited to replacement aircraft in this segment."
Engel also noted that it's difficult to see how well Mitsubishi's SpaceJets will fare against the competition until deliveries begin.
"The plane doesn’t actually exist yet; it’s still just on paper," he said.
Still, FlightGlobal reports that Mitsubishi has already received more than 200 firm orders for their regional jets, with 15 coming from All Nippon Airlines and the rest from smaller regional operators internationally.
Featured Photo of an MRJ90 from Zach Honig, TPG