The Mitsubishi SpaceJet - formerly knowns as Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) - is a completely new two-engine regional jet airliner, of which two versions are under development: the SpaceJet M90 with around 90 seats and the SpaceJet M100 seating around 76 passengers.
The programme was officially launched in March 2008 by Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation as 'Mitsubishi Regional Jet' (MRJ). In June 2019, at the Paris Air Show, Mitsubishi announced the rebranding of the project as 'SpaceJet'. The MRJ90 became the 'SpaceJet M90' and a smaller 76-seat version was named 'SpaceJet M100'. The latter is actually a 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) stretched variant of the earlier projected MRJ70.
The maiden flight of the MRJ90, was originally planned for spring 2012 and the first delivery to ANA All Nippon Airways in 2013. But the project suffered heavy delays. Not earlier than on 18 October 2014, the first MRJ90 prototype was officially rolled out from the factory and its maiden flight took place on 11 November 2015. The first delivery to ANA as SpaceJet M90 is now planned for mid 2020.
The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW1200G geared turbofans, for which Mitsubishi was the first customer. The company originally wanted to build large parts of the airframe of carbon-fiber-reinforced composites. However, in 2009 the company changed its mind and decided to construct the aircraft's wing of aluminium. In the end, only between 10 and 15 per cent of the airframe is made of composites.
Passengers sit four-abreast (2+2). Mitsubishi claims that the cabin is wider and higher than that of competing aircraft. The margin compared with the E-Jet is very small, however, only 2 cm, less than an inch. Where the competing Embraer E-Jets have a double bubble fuselage with the cargo/luggage compartment under the cabin floor, the SpaceJet has a circular cross section and the cargo/luggage hold in the rear fuselage.
The SpaceJet is the first passenger aircraft developed in Japan since the NAMC YS-11 turboprop, which first flew in August 1962. Its main competitor is the Embraer E-Jet family. The Sukhoi Superjet and the Antonov An-148 are also in the same class. The CRJ is not a competitor any more, because in June 2019 Mitsubishi agreed with Bombardier to take over this aircraft programme. The agreement comprises maintenance, support, refurbishment, marketing, and sales activities for the CRJ Series aircraft.
ANA All Nippon Airlines (15 orders plus 10 options) and Japan Air Lines (32) were among the first airlines ordering the MRJ90. When designing the MRJ90, Mitsubishi also had the US regional airlines in mind, but the aircraft is heavier than scope clauses for pilots of regional airlines in the US allow. Mitsubishi, as did Embraer, hoped that the scope clause would be relaxed, but so far this didn't happen. The smaller original MRJ70 was somewhat lighter than these scope clauses allowed (MTOW of 86,000 lb). Therefore Mitsubishi adapted the design with a 1.1 m stretch to make it a better propositon under these restrictions, and renamed it SpaceJet M100.
An advantage for the M100 is that it is so far the only new technology scope-compliant regional jet. Embraer's E175-E2 is too heavy and the E-175-E1 has old engines. The first (provisional) contract for the SpaceJet M100 came from US regional carrier Mesa Airlines. In september 2019 the airline signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 100 SpaceJet M100 aircraft (50 firm orders plus purchase rights for 50 more).
Mitsubishi is still targeting the entry-into-service of the SpaceJet M90 in mid 2020. The SpaceJet M100 will follow in 2024. Under study is a stretched 100-seater, the SpaceJet M200.
SpaceJet M90 Specifications
Wingspan: 29.20 m (95 ft 10 in). Length: 35.8 m (117 ft 5 in). Height: 10.4 m (34 ft 2 in).
Empty weight: 26,000 kg (57,320 lb). Max. take-off weight: 42,800 kg (94,358 lb).
Accommodation: 76-92 passengers. Range: 3,770 (2,040 nm). Cruise speed: 829 km/h (447 kts). Engines: two Pratt & Whitney PW1200G turbofans (78.2 kN - 17,600 lb).
(Photo: Mitsubishi Aircraft)
SpaceJet M100 Specifications
Wingspan: 27.8 m (91 ft 3 in). Length: 34.5 m (113 ft 26 in). Height: 10.3 m (33 ft 9 in).
Max. take-off weight:
42,000 kg (92,594 lb).
Passengers: 70-88. Range: 3,540 km (1,910 nm). Cruise speed: 829 km/h (447 kts). Engines: two Pratt & Whitney PW1200G turbofans (78.2 kN - 17,600 lb).
(Image: Mitsubishi Aircraft)