Miami-based Aerolease plans to buy MRJ70 regional jets as demand for the smaller version of the Mitsubishi-built aircraft develops, says partner Jep Thornton.
Aerolease signed a definitive agreement to order 10 MRJ90s in August 2016, along with 10 options.
But Mitsubishi Aircraft has placed a new emphasis on introducing the MRJ70 as soon as possible, knowing that contractual restrictions on aircraft weight limits that prohibit the MRJ90 in the US market are unlikely to be relieved in the short-term.
“We expect that [MRJ] order to scale as the programme develops,” Thornton says, “and we expect that we will order MRJ70s when we have operators that want those aircraft on leases.”
The MRJ70, which seats about 69 passengers in a typical dual-class configuration, falls within the current scope limits. The MRJ90 typically seats 76 passengers, but exceeds the maximum weight limit allowed under scope clauses in US airline contracts with pilots unions.
Mitsubishi Aircraft now formed an strategy group focused on the MRJ70, says MRJ programme manager Alex Bellamy. The company plans to certificate the MRJ70 by 2021, or a year after the planned delivery of the first MRJ90.