Mitsubishi Sets Sights on Americas for New Jet

Japanese firm likely to face tough competition from established makers of regional jets.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said Thursday it will launch a sales drive for Japan's first passenger jet in the Americas next month, hoping for a share of a large but crowded market for regional airliners. Mitsubishi is expected to face tough competition from established makers of similar jets in the region, including Canada's Bombardier and Brazil's Embraer. Mitsubishi's aircraft division said it would put $700,000 in a Texas-based sales subsidiary as it targets a huge market stretching from Canada to Chile. "Establishing a local sales and marketing base in the world's largest regional jet market, that of the Americas, is incredibly significant for our company," said Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. President Nobuo Toda. He said the move should boost the profile of the airplane and pave the way for "a large number of orders." The MRJ would be the first commercial passenger aircraft in four decades -- and the first jet airplane -- to be developed in Japan. The company says the 70- to 90-seat airplane can save about 20% of fuel consumption through a new "geared turbofan" engine designed by U.S.-based Pratt & Whitney as well as a lighter body using innovative material. Mitsubishi Heavy said in March it had decided to go ahead with commercial development of the plane after landing its first order from All Nippon Airways for up to 25 aircraft. The project has development and sales support from Boeing Co. and financial backing from Toyota Motor Corp. and three Japanese trading houses. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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