Japanese giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is in talks to buy the CRJ regional jet program from Canada-headquartered Bombardier, both companies have confirmed.
The deal, if completed, would result in Bombardier ending 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.
Bombardier said any sale of the CRJ regional jet program would require approval from management and the board.
Further, it cautioned that there was no assurance that the talks with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries would ultimately lead to an agreement.
“While Bombardier does not generally comment publicly on market speculation or rumours, in light of recent media reports, Bombardier believes it is prudent to advise stakeholders that it is in discussions with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. with respect to its CRJ Program,” Bombardier said in a statement on its website on June 5 (Canada time).
“We will not further comment on the nature of the discussions. Before any agreement can be reached further review and analysis by Bombardier management and approval by Bombardier’s Board of Directors are required, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. must complete its due diligence review and own analysis and approval process, which are outside of Bombardier’s control.”
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the majority owner of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, with Toyota Motor Corporation the other major shareholder.
The potential deal, which would bring together Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation’s MRJ regional jet program and the CRJ under one roof, was first reported by The Air Current website.
VIDEO: Some air-to-air footage of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet from the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation YouTube channel.
The MRJ is a two-aircraft family comprising the 90-seat MRJ90 or 70-seat MRJ70. The program is powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1200 geared turbofan engines.
The first flight of the much-delayed program took place in November 2015, with first delivery expected in mid-2020.
The MRJ competes with the likes of the Airbus A220 and Embraer E-jets in the regional segment of the commercial aircraft market.
It was reported recently the company planned to rename the program “Space Jet”.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries confirmed the talks with Bombardier in a statement reported by the Nikkei Asian Review.
“It is true that we are in discussions relating to a possible transaction involving Bombardier’s regional jet program with strict adherence to the applicable competition rules and regulations,” the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries statement said.
“However, neither has any corporate decision been made, nor are there any prospects as to the contents of such a transaction.”
Currently, the CRJ program comprises the 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 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.
VIDEO: A 2015 video looking at the construction of an CRJ for United States-based Mesa Airlines from the Bombardier Aerospace YouTube channel.