Mitsubishi targets 2017-18 to deliver 100-seat MRJ

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Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. today revealed the 100-seat and third member of its regional jet family should enter service in five or six years.

On 25 April, the Japanese airframer postponed entry into service of the 90-seat Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) to the third quarter of 2015.

A 70-seat version of the MRJ is expected to deliver a year later, but Mitsubishi had previously not disclosed the timeline for introducing the MRJ100X.

"We'd like MRJ100X in the market in 2017 or 2018," said Yugo Fukuhara, director of marketing for Mitsubishi Aircraft, addressing reporters at the Regional Airline Association convention.

Mitsubishi identified the timing for the stretched version of the MRJ90 after discussing options with potential airline customers, Fukuhara said.

Previously, Mitsubishi identified the target market for the MRJ 100X as European airlines with looser scope restrictions in pilot labour contracts.

In March 2011, then-International Lease Finance Corp chief executive Steven Udvar-Hazy also told an industry audience that Mitsubishi should commit to developing a 100-seater.

So far, the first two variants of the aircraft have been slow to attract orders. All Nippon Airways ordered 15 MRJs with 10 options, Trans States Holdings agreed to buy 50 MRJs with 50 options, and ANI Group Holdings signed a memorandum of understanding for five MRJs.

Mitsubishi expects to sign new deals by the end of the year to raise the total number of orders and options to more than 200, said Hitoshi Iwasa, vice president of sales and marketing for Mitsubishi Aircraft.