MITSUBISHI HEAVY Industries (MHI) is discussing taking a significant risk-sharing stake in the development of Bombardier's proposed Canadair CRJ-X stretch Regional Jet.
Japanese sources say that MHI is being "strongly encouraged" to join the programme by an offer of funding from Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Bombardier is looking for international partners to launch the aircraft before the end of the year.
Participation in the 70-seat aircraft is being viewed as a more viable alternative to Japan's development of the indigenous YS-X design. The 100-seat project, has effectively been in limbo, since prospective partner Boeing elected to apply, to join the similarly sized Chinese AE-100 programme.
MITI and the Japan Aircraft Development (JADC) consortium have been trying to revive the YS-X by reducing the design to its original 70-seat size and seeking support from new foreign partners (Flight International, 21-28 February).
Government funding in the form of soft loans from MITI would require the collaborative involvement of other Japanese aerospace manufacturers, such as Fuji and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. MHI, given its strong relationship with Bombardier, is being tipped as the lead Japanese partner.
MHI already builds the wing and fuselage centre section, for the Canadair Global Express business jet and recently signed, for an undisclosed stake, in the de Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprop development. MITI is also underwriting Japan's 30% share in the General Electric CF34-8C growth engine being developed for the CRJ-X.