PARIS—Mitsubishi is considering seeking an upgrade to the engines powering its newly renamed SpaceJet regional airliner.

The aircraft, whose two models were known previously as the Mitsubishi MRJ70 and MRJ90, was originally scheduled to have entered service in 2013, but a series of delays have meant that the first aircraft will enter service, with Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), in mid-2020.

Mitsubishi was the launch customer for Pratt & Whitney’s P&W GTF PW1200G turbofan and Mitsubishi officials were asked at the Paris Air Show June 17 if the protracted development period meant that the company was now seeking improvements to the engine to help fend off Embraer’s competing E2 series of regional jets.

“I think we would expect there to be a product improvement package” for the engine, Mitsubishi’s chief development officer for the SpaceJet program Alex Bellamy said. The possibility of such a package was being talked about, but nothing had yet been agreed, he said.

During a presentation on the substantially revamped former MRJ70—which has been developed into the SpaceJet M100—Mitsubishi officials made several references to seeking partners on the project and “seeking offers” from prospective partners to assist on the type.

Bellamy said that while Mitsubishi was confident that the SpaceJet was competitive in performance terms with rivals, the company’s next step was to attract offers from the program’s stakeholders that would make it price-competitive. 

Aviation Daily understands that Mitsubishi’s production line in Nagoya, Japan will quickly be running at full capacity once deliveries begin and there may be scope for non-Japanese partners in the build process. Asked whether this could lead to production facilities being set up other than in Japan, which is a high-cost environment, one official responded cryptically that “Aviation is a global business.”

Mitsubishi says it is also confident that the strength of the regional market—particularly in the U.S.—offers good prospects for its design, especially as the new M100, which will seat 76 in a three-class layout, will not breach scope clauses with U.S. feeder carriers.

The manufacturer believes that the M100’s new cabin, with 18.5 in. wide seats, a 2 in. gap between seats in its 2-2 layout, overhead locker space for everyone to take a standard-size rollerbag on board and the widest, tallest cabin in its class, will attract more clients.

Conversations with prospective customers regarding the newly-announced M100 had been very positive, Bellamy asserted, adding “From today, we will start to have serious discussions with those airlines to confirm orders.”