Mitsubishi Aircraft is still studying the market potential for a 100-seat stretch of the MRJ regional jet, but maintains that its focus remains on first executing the baseline MRJ90.
“We’re studying the market to see where the 100-seater is. I think that will be very important in the future because certain regions demand larger aircraft than the regional category,” says Greg Alberts, Mitsubishi’s senior vice president global leasing and asset management.
He was speaking at a manufacturer's discussion panel at the ISTAT Asia event in Hong Kong.
In February, Mitsubishi's head of sales Yugo Fukuhara told Flightglobal that there has been some discussion with potential customers about a stretched variant of the aircraft, dubbed MRJ100X, but that the business case still required more work before a launch decision could be made.
At ISTAT, Alberts inferred that any such decision will have to wait till the 88-seat MRJ90 is further down the development curve.
“We’re studying the market, we’re not committed to building this [MRJ100X] aircraft. We’re very much focused on the MRJ90 as our first, most important task,” he said.
The first flight-test MRJ90 is undergoing assembly at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Komaki South facility in Japan. Flightglobal also reported earlier this week that the first ground test aircraft has been moved to a facility near Nagoya airport to start static strength tests.
The MRJ90 is scheduled to make its first flight in Q2 2015, with the 76 seat MRJ70 to follow one year later.
Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows that Mitsubishi holds orders for 165 MRJ90s and 160 options from All Nippon Airways, SkyWest Airlines and Trans States Holdings. It has yet to secure a firm order for the MRJ70.