Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is studying the possibility of building a new assembly facility near Japan's Nagoya airport to ramp up the planned production rate of its Mitsubishi MRJ regional jet.

"MHI is currently studying whether it would be possible to secure a plant site adjoining Nagoya airport, anticipating the production volume increase of the MRJ," says a spokesman.

"MHI would conduct final assembly of the MRJ there if the site is secured."

He adds that it is still unclear when, should the site be secured, construction will begin and how long it will last.

MHI already has a plant beside Nagoya airport where it has said it will assemble the MRJ70 and MRJ90 aircraft.

"Initially, MHI will start production of MRJ at a rate of one or two per month, which will be increased later," says the spokesman.

MHI is responsible for manufacturing major parts of the MRJ, including the fuselage, wings and tails, and will take charge of the aircraft's final assembly.

Mitsubishi Aircraft told Flightglobal last December that it was studying how to ramp up the planned production rate of its regional jet to meet the delivery demands of customers. It calculates that it needs to produce 10 aircraft monthly in order to meet demands.

If a second line proves necessary, however, it will only be set up after the aircraft receives type certification scheduled for the third quarter of 2015, it added.

The MRJ programme received a major boost last December when US-based SkyWest Airlines firmed an agreement for 100 MRJ90s, and an additional 100 of the aircraft type. The deal takes Mitsubishi's backlog to 170 firm orders with 160 options.

The MRJ is scheduled to perform its first flight in the third quarter of 2013, with deliveries to follow in 2015.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news