Japanese giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) will pay US$550 million to purchase the CRJ regional jet program from Canada-headquartered Bombardier, both companies have confirmed.
The deal, announced on June 25 (Canadian time) covered the maintenance, support, refurbishment, marketing, and sales activities for the Canadair Regional Jet Program (CRJ) Series aircraft, including the related services and support network located in Montréal, Québec, and Toronto, Ontario, and its service centres located in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and Tucson, Arizona, as well as the type certificates.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the majority owner of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, would also take on US$200 million of liabilities in the CRJ program.
The Japanese company said the CRJ was complimentary to the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation’s SpaceJet program. It said in a statement the maintenance and engineering capabilities of the CRJ program would “further enhance critical customer support functions, a strategic business area for MHI in the pursuit of future growth”.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries chief executive Seiji Izumisawa said the CRJ program would contribute to the future success of the SpaceJet.
“As we outlined during the recent Paris Air Show, we are working hard to ensure that we provide new profit potential for airlines and set a new standard for passenger experience,” Izumisawa said.
“This transaction represents one of the most important steps in our strategic journey to build a strong, global aviation capability. It augments these efforts by securing a world-class and complementary set of aviation-related functions including maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), engineering and customer support.”
The two companies announced in early June they were in talks regarding the CRJ program.
The SpaceJet program, formerly known as the Mitsubishi Regional Jet program before it was renamed in June, is currently a two-aircraft family comprising the M90, designed to seat between 76-92 passengers, and the M100, which can seat from 65 to 88 seats and has been designed to be scope clause compliant in the United States.
A larger SpaceJet M200 variant for up to 100 seats was also under study.
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The SpaceJet family of aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney PurePower Geared Turbofan PW1200G engines, which received FAA certification in 2017.
Type certification flight testing was underway for the M90 at Moses Lake in Washington State with both the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). First delivery of the SpaceJet M90 was slated for 2020.
Meanwhile, the CRJ program had three variants – CRJ700 (up to 78 seats and 1,400nm range), CRJ900 (up to 90 seats and 1,550nm range) and CRJ1000 (up to 104 seats and 1,650nm range), according to the Bombardier Commercial Aircraft website.
Meanwhile, Bombardier is also developing a 50-seat CRJ550 based on its existing CRJ700.
At March 31 2019, Bombardier held 51 firm orders and three options for the CRJ900.
The deal was expected to be completed in the first half of 2020 and was subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions.
Once finalised, it would represent Bombardier’s withdraw from commercial aircraft production, having already sold off its Q400 turboprop business to Longview Aviation Capital and a majority stake in the CSeries (now A220) to Airbus.
The company has said previously it was looking at strategic options for the CRJ and recently restructured its aviation business that included putting its aerostructures facilities in Ireland and Morocco up for sale.
Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare said the deal with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries represented the completion of the company’s aerospace transformation.
“We are confident that MHI’s acquisition of the program is the best solution for airline customers, employees and shareholders. We are committed to ensuring a smooth and orderly transition,” Bellemare said in a statement.
“With our aerospace transformation now behind us, we have a clear path forward and a powerful vision for the future. Our focus is on two strong growth pillars: Bombardier Transportation, our global rail business, and Bombardier Aviation, a world-class business jet franchise with market-defining products and an unmatched customer experience.”
Bombardier said it would build all remaining CRJ aircraft in the current backlog at its production facility in Mirabel, Quebec, as well as continue to supply components and spare parts.
Further, the Mirabel facility would remain with Bombardier.
VIDEO: A 2015 video looking at the construction of an CRJ for United States-based Mesa Airlines from the Bombardier Aerospace YouTube channel.
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