The Paris Air Show, which starts on June 17, may have an important announcement. According to rumors, Mitsubishi Aircraft intends to announce the acquisition of the CRJ program of Bombardier, the last family of commercial aircraft of the Canadian company.
The Japanese manufacturer has confirmed that it is negotiating with Bombardier, but that no decision has been taken. In a delicate financial situation, the Canadian planemaker is leaving the commercial aviation industry.
Last year the company sold part of the C Series program to Airbus that turned it into the A220 jet and last week sold the property rights of the Q400 turboprops to the Longview group, which already owns the old De Havilland Canada aircraft.
It was already known that the CRJ Series would also be sold, but what was not expected was that the biggest stakeholder was Mitsubishi, with whom Bombardier is in a lawsuit for accusing the rival of buying trade secrets.
While taking over the CRJ jet lines will eventually eliminate a competitor from the market that currently has nearly 2,000 planes delivered, it is unclear what Mitsubishi will gain with a line of aircraft that overlaps with its two models, the MRJ90 and the MRJ70.
List of customers in 90 countries
Bombardier currently offers four versions of the CRJ, a regional jet born of the classic Challenger executive jet. The models range from the 78-seat CRJ700 (which is also sold as CRJ550 with 50-seat cabin), the CRJ900 (90 seats) to the CRJ1000 with 104 seats.
It does not seem to make sense to offer these two types of planes to the same customers. One hypothesis is that Mitsubishi may be eyeing the market just below 70 places, where its original design has no advantages because of its very large size.
On the other hand, the Japanese manufacturer could benefit from the large list of CRJ customers, potential buyers of MRJ. It has this whole post-sales history and the strengths and weaknesses of these airplanes will serve as knowledge for a startup like it. In fact, Bombardier now has CRJ customers in some 90 countries.
Rumors surfaced shortly after Mitsubishi announced major changes to its MRJ program that should be renamed Space Jet. The manufacturer also plans to tailor the MRJ70 to meet the scope clause of the US Pilots’ Unions to allow it to be sold to regional airlines in the country. In addition, it plans to shift commercial jet production to North America in an attempt to attract customers in the country, where it is the largest market for such aircraft.