Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation is positive on the European market, even though the MRJ regional jet has yet to secure a firm order in the region.

Speaking to Flightglobal at at the MRJ stand at the Dubai air show, Yoshihisa Kumagai, president of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation Europe, says the company “is in active discussions with several European carriers and is expecting more upcoming interest”.

He declined, however, to identify prospective airline customers.

Kumagai’s comments follow the MRJ’s completion of its maiden sortie on 11 November. The aircraft touched down after a flight around Nagoya airspace that lasted approximately 85 minutes.

He lists several factors why the company has been unable to break into Europe.

“Many legacy airlines are conservative; they don’t dare to take risks with a new, unproven aircraft. Part of the problem also lies with us – in arriving late. Our competitors were already pushing their products much earlier than us.”

Another reason for MRJ’s difficulties in Europe is that European carriers are seeking aircraft types with a minimum of more than 100 seats, Kumagai says.

Still, he is confident of MRJ’s portfolio, describing it as “a whole package solution”.

The 76-80 seat MRJ70 will compete against the Bombardier Q400, while the MRJ90 (88-92 seats) and MRJ100X (100 seats) will go up against the CRJ900 and Embraer’s E2 family jets, respectively.

On development of the MRJ100X, Kumagai admits that the company's “tables are full”.

“We will redirect our resources to the MRJ100X after we have successfully completed the roll out of the MRJ70 and MRJ90,” he adds.

The Pratt & Whitney PW1200G powered aircraft has so far received 223 firm orders, with purchase rights for a further 184.

Mitsubishi has about 1.5 years to complete tests and certification, before it is due to deliver the first aircraft in the second quarter of 2017. The MRJ's launch customer is All Nippon Airways.

Source: Cirium Dashboard