Mitsubishi Aircraft (probably) has a US-based customer for its SpaceJet M100 regional jet. The company announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Mesa Airlines this week at the Regional Aircraft Association conference in Nashville. The companies will now negotiate the final details of the order, with an expectation of 50 aircraft plus 50 options with deliveries beginning in 2024.
Mesa did not indicate which of its mainline airline partners the SpaceJet would operate for. The carrier flies regional services for United Airlines and American Airlines.
As we developed the Mitsubishi SpaceJet family, we knew we had changed the way that passengers and airlines will think about regional travel. Mesa Airlines’ selection of the SpaceJet M100 confirms that our aircraft fulfills current and future needs in this industry, and that airlines are ready to move our discussions forward.– Hisakazu Mizutani, President Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation
Read More: Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet buys Bombardier’s support
The SpaceJet 100 is the shrink version of the company’s new product line. And the shrink is key. Trans States Holdings, another regional player, holds orders for 50 of the larger M90 and also the Embraer 175-E2. Both of those types are too large to fly for a regional operator under current airline/pilot contract, however.
Mitsubishi bet early in the program timeline that airlines would negotiate that size limit away. That has not occurred, leaving the larger type out of scope for these airlines. The SpaceJet 100 meets the smaller size requirements and the company is quick to point out that its aircraft is the only “clean-sheet” aircraft design that can fill that role.
The U.S. mainline carriers are looking for an aircraft that will allow them to provide a consistent, premium passenger experience from their regional to their long-haul fleets. With its large cabin, comfort, new technology and low operating costs, the Mitsubishi SpaceJet M100 can deliver this premium experience within U.S. scope clause.– Jonathan Ornstein, Chairman and CEO, Mesa Air Group, Inc.
Read More: Forget the names: Mitsubishi wants its new interior to win over customers
The SpaceJet 100 is not expected to enter service until 2022 based on current timelines, and even that may be overly optimistic. The new type will see Mitsubishi adjust its design and manufacture ethos, incorporating more foreign-built components. The hope is that an improved supply chain will ease the certification challenge and that the company can build on the SpaceJet M90’s efforts on that front. That larger model continues its certification progress out of Moses Lake, Washington today.
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