If you have traveled by air anytime in the last decade, chances are you have been on an ERJ or CRJ. Regional Jets operate the majority of short to medium haul routes in practically every country in the world. In recent years two Companies, Bombardier and Embraer, have held monopolies in the regional jet industry. Now the airline industry will finally see the next generation of regional jet in service; the Mitsubishi Regional Jet.
The airline industry is expected to see a trend towards larger regional jets as passenger traffic increases over the next couple decades. While 50 seat regional jets, like the CRJ-200 and ERJ-145 were previously profitable, airlines are expected to park them in exchange for aircraft in the 70 to 90 seat range. Mitsubishi Aircraft of Japan capitalized on this expected trend by developing the MRJ90 and MRJ70 with 90 and 70 seats respectively.
The "MRJ" will feature brand new state of the art engines, Pratt & Whitney PW1200G Turbofans, which will drastically decrease operating costs, engine noise, emissions, and fuel consumption. The flight deck will feature a full "Fly-by-wire" system with 4 large LCD screens to assist with situational awareness and systems monitoring.
The MRJ Class is sure to be efficient for the airlines. First off, the MRJ70 and MRJ90 will be similar enough that one type rating will allow pilots to operate either aircraft. With its extended range, it will be able to cover longer routes than current RJ's. The MRJ will be able to fly from Coast to Coast of the United States or anywhere within Europe. This will allow the airlines to place the aircraft on less full routes, where they currently lose money on half empty mainline aircraft.
At first look, the MRJ looks similar to Embraer's ERJ-170's and 190's with it's characteristic wing mounted engines. Inside, however, the MRJ will prove to be much more comfortable for passengers. The aircraft will seat 4 across with 2 on each side of the aisle. They will feature seats comparable to those in today's business class, large overhead bins, increased head and leg room, and larger lavatories.
The PW1200G engines are currently being tested and the airframe and components are under development. The first test flight is scheduled to occur by the third quarter of next year. The first aircraft are expected to be delivered some time in 2015. The aircraft is scheduled to debut with United State's regional carrier, Trans State Airlines, who flies for United and US Airways Express. The airline has 50 firm orders with options for another 50 aircraft. ANA of Japan also has ordered 15 of the type with options for another 10.Check back here for any updates on the development of the MRJ.