In Asia, aviation is a-booming. Both China and Japan debuted new passenger aircraft this month. Interestingly, both aircraft are being targeted at China’s growing aviation markets.
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), which embarked on its maiden flight on the 11th of this month, is the first domestic passenger jet that Japan has produced in 50 years. Japan Airlines purchased 243 orders and Skywest, the world’s largest regional airline, placed 200 orders. Of the two jets, the MRJ is the smaller, seating between 70 and 90. The goal here is fuel-efficiency. In an age of increasing environmental awareness, a fuel-efficient aircraft has public opinion on its side.
Earlier this month, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) released its own domestically produced liner called the C919. Over 517 orders have already been placed on the plane from various airlines, including many regional Chinese ones. Whereas the MRJ is looking to offset fuel costs through fuel efficiency, the C919 is looking to do so through sheer passenger volume. It can seat between 158 and 174. However, many of the parts of the C919–from the engine to the landing gear system, electric power system and more–are manufactured by foreign companies.
It’s tough to say how the market share will pan out, though I place my money on Japan. Since the post-WWII moratorium on building aircraft, the country has really made a comeback in airplane production. They produce a staggering amount of parts for Boeing and have decades of producing aircraft for the US military. Even though Mitsubishi Aircraft is only seven years-old they are aiming to sell 5000 MRJs in the next several years. That’s impressive.
At any rate, it’s refreshing to see some new competition in an industry that is all-too-dominated by Boeing and Airbus.