Could Mitsubishi be a good partner for the A220?

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Yesterday, a reader of the Les Ailes du Québec site made the following comment: “If Bombardier is forced to sell its share in the A220, what will happen? A sale from them to Mitsubishi or Comac? Mitsubishi would make a lot of sense I think. “

The idea that Mitsubishi is buying Bombardier’s share of the A220 deserves some attention.


Mitsubishi is a supplier to Boeing on all of its civil aircraft programs still in production. Mitsubishi has invested heavily in the B787 while supplying 35% of its parts and components. Boeing has already announced a slowdown of the B787 from 14 to 10 aircraft per month. This slowdown is therefore bad news for the Japanese company. In fact, Mitsubishi is affected by the slowdown of all Boeing aircraft programs. In addition, the American aircraft manufacturer has announced plans to develop the next aircraft in-house. This is another bad news for Mitsubishi that could be overlooked. Logically, Brazil should be Boeing’s new best body for its next aircraft program.

From the beginning of the MRJ program, the Japanese company tried to stick to Boeing. In 2011, Mitsubishi even signed an agreement with Boeing. This contract allowed it to use Boeing’s after-sales service network for the MRJ. Subsequently, she opened an engineering office in Seattle in 2015, with the goal of accelerating FAA certification. In 2017, Mitsubishi also chose Seattle to set up its North American head office there.

But in December 2017, Boeing confirmed that it was negotiating with Embraer, thus turning its back on the Japanese company. It was a big blow to Mitsubishi when it saw Boeing choose Embraer’s E2 to respond to the Airbus-Bombardier partnership. It then became evident that the MRJ could not use the Boeing after-sales service network. This is what forced the manufacturer of the MRJ to spend $ 750 million to buy that of the CRJ in June 2019.

The MRJ has been renamed SpaceJet but its certification continues to encounter difficulties. To use the word disappointment to talk about SpaceJet certification is an understatement.

Why the A220

Buying Bombardier’s stake in the A220 has several advantages for Mitsubishi: it is expected that after certification of the SpaceJet M90, other variants will be developed. It would then be possible to harmonize the avionics suite of the M100 and M200 with that of the A220. The SpaceJet would then integrate much better with the Airbus line of aircraft. For a pilot, it would be much less complicated to switch from SpaceJet to the A220 saving airlines money.

Participating in bringing the A220 into production would be a very useful experience when the SpaceJet’s turn comes. In addition, Mitsubishi would move away from the lame duck that Boeing has become while moving closer to Airbus.

The advantage for Airbus

The arrival of Mitsubishi in the A220 would allow Airbus to have a partner it could count on in the long term. The Japanese giant has shown enduring patience and determination with the SpaceJet. Its financial solidity is beyond doubt and Japan do not procrastinate before supporting their champions.

Airbus could use the SaceJet to compete with Boeing and the E2 without paying a penny. In this context, Airbus would be well advised to help the SpaceJet out of  trouble.

From an industrial point of view, the arrival of the Mitsubishi group would be an excellent thing for Airbus. Suppliers to the A320neo family have great difficulty keeping pace. As a supplier, the Japanese giant would be able to offer additional production capacity. This is exactly what Airbus needs the most right now.

According to the actual agreement, Bombardier ans Québec have to sell their share to Airbus only. So it is Airbus to decide if a new partner in the A220 is needed. But we think Mitsubishi would make a very good partner for the A220.

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