There has always been the paradox that while just two airframers battle it out in the market for mainline aircraft - where the long-term market for new airliners is forecast to be worth almost $3 trillion - no end of companies want to try their hand in the regional sector, where the margins are thinner and the dollar numbers are much smaller.

In the 1990s it was the European manufacturers that were guilty of oversupply, with ATR, British Aerospace, Casa, Dornier, Fokker and Saab all competing to supply turboprops. In the Americas, Bombardier was the main player (its regional division was created through the takeover and merger of Canadair and de Havilland Canada), while Embraer, Fairchild and Raytheon were also in the mix at the smaller end of the market.

Despite a much-needed consolidation effort (remember the Aero International (Regional) joint venture involving ATR and BAe?), many airframers fell by the wayside as the turboprop market collapsed in the wake of the regional jet revolution. The shake-out left just three players in the regional sector.

But a decade on all that has been forgotten. Mitsubishi is the latest company to join the growing large regional jet sector and over-supply is again inevitable.

However it is less clear who will emerge victorious this time. The Western incumbents face challenges from politically backed programmes in China, Japan and Russia. All the new programmes boast impressive lists of international suppliers, and they offer either next-generation engine technology or potentially huge home markets.

But the old hands have been here before and are more than ready to take on the young upstarts. So seconds out, it's round one

Source: Flight International