Mitsubishi Aircraft is rebranding its MRJ regional airliner family to underline planned improvements to performance and cabin comfort. The new 76-seat MRJ-70 model will now be called the SpaceJet M100, while the 92-seat MRJ-90 will be known as the SpaceJet M90. The Japanese manufacturer is also making plans to introduce a larger 100-seat model that will be called the SpaceJet M200.
The SpaceJet M100 is mainly intended for the U.S. market, where the so-called scope clause terms of pilot union agreements mean that aircraft used in regional airline operations have to have a maximum takeoff weight of no more than 86,000 pounds. Mitsubishi will be using new lighter-weight materials for the new model so that it can meet this requirement, while still offering 76 seats in three-class configuration.
After several delays to a development program that began almost a decade ago, the larger SpaceJet M90 is expected to enter service with launch customers Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways before the end of 2020.
The rebranding comes at a time when the Japanese manufacturer is seeking to ensure its place in a consolidating market for regional airliners that has seen Boeing take over its Brazilian rival Embraer and Airbus acquire the larger C Series models from Canada’s Bombardier. In late June, Mitsubishi reached an agreement to buy Bombardier’s smaller CRJ jet family, for which production is due to come to an end in mid-2020. It will be responsible for aftermarket support going forward and will be hoping that CRJ customers will now look to its SpaceJet line as a modern alternative.