Mitsubishi’s new passenger jet could fare better with buyers in the Middle East and China compared to the U.S. market, industry watchers said this week. Not only are manufacturers predicting long-term growth in those international markets, Mitsubishi – which has struggled to move ahead on schedule for its new MRJ90 regional airliner – faces challenges meeting the needs of U.S. airlines. Mitsubishi told The National this week the company is eyeing growing regional-jet markets such as Saudi Arabia. “Also, we think that the MRJ’s size and range will match with the routes in the Middle East where expansion of air transport demand is expected,” a company spokeswoman said. The report also notes that the 90-seat MRJ can compete with regional jets made by companies including Embraer, which predicted that the biggest growth in the coming years lies in the Middle East and China.
In the U.S., the jet’s configuration could be a hurdle, as noted in another National report this week. The MRJ began about a year’s worth of certification flight tests this month in Washington state. More than 400 orders are online so far from buyers including SkyWest and Trans States, but the MRJ faces issues with mainline air carriers that limit their regional operators to 76-seat jets, according to the report. An analyst added that the jet’s range, offering 2000 kilometers at best, is just fine in smaller countries but not so much in the U.S., where something like the Embraer E170 could cover almost twice the distance. Mitsubishi, which is developing its first commercial passenger jet in 50 years, said last year it expected certification delays with the MRJ due to design issues, resulting in flight testing postponed until this month. Courtesy of AVweb.