The new name – it is now officially the SpaceJet M90 – does not really matter for the future of the MRJ. The confusing nomenclature – the smaller plane will be named the M100 rather than the MRJ70 – does not really matter. But Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation does have meaningful news out about the company’s soon-to-certify aircraft.
Not only will the newly named SpaceJet M100 conform to US pilot scope clause requirements, but the aircraft will see a brand new interior launched at the Paris Air Show next week. Delivering a product compelling to passengers as well as to airlines is a necessity for the company to sell its planes.
This is a commercial segment where we see great opportunity. As we prepare for entry-into-service for the SpaceJet M90, we are also announcing the SpaceJet M100 – the result of our research and development during the past few years and the answer to the regional market’s current and future needs. These products mark our dedication to a segment in desperate need of change that will allow airlines to enhance the satisfaction of their passengers and significantly improve their business performance. – Hisakazu Mizutani, President, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation
The company claims the tallest and widest cabin in its class for the new M100, besting the Embraer E-Jets. Mitsubishi also suggests the aircraft will feature the “roomiest economy seat and the most overhead bin capacity – one roller bag per passenger, eliminating the need for gate-check.”
The plane expects to be an inch wider and taller than the E-Jet it competes with, including 18.5″ wide seats in economy class. These changes are expected to not only deliver improved passenger comfort, but Mitsubishi hopes that more ancillary revenue opportunities result from the cabin redesign.
Read More: Can Space Jet save the MRJ??
The new M100 design calls for a 65-76 seat layout across three classes of service (first, extra leg room, economy) targeting the US market. That same plane can be configured with up to 88 seats in other markets. Not only will the US version see a lower number of seats, but it will also see its range limited. This is necessary to cut the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft below the scope clause limits.
Entertainment and Connectivity
The comfort goals for SpaceJet will not be realized just through a more spacious cabin, but also through other amenities on board. The company is promising in-seat power via USB-C, for example. The company also promises an embedded inflight entertainment solution plus streaming IFE. Live television capabilities are part of the plan. So is high-speed inflight broadband connectivity.
Details on which vendors will participate remain scarce at this time. Hopefully Mitsubishi will offer further details during the Paris Air Show.
The E175 will still offer a significant range advantage over the SpaceJet M100. Mitsubishi hopes the trend towards more mainline flights on longer routes in the US will reduce the impact of this limitation. The company lost its bet a decade ago on scope clause shift, but this one appears more likely to play in the company’s favor.
More than two thirds of the active order book for the M90/MRJ90 comes from a pair of US regional airlines. Converting those orders to something Mitsubishi can deliver AND the airlines can fly for their mainline partners is a critical step towards commercial success for the SpaceJet program. Making the planes cheaper and more comfortable should help. Picking up the maintenance and support infrastructure from Bombardier’s CRJ line would help, too.
And who really cares what it is called.