Boeing has an uphill battle to undo the damage done by its 737 Max 8 plane, which was involved in two fatal plane crashes that cost the lives of hundreds of people. As the U.S.-based manufacturer develops a fix for its faulty anti-stall system that will assuage the concerns of federal regulators, the airlines that purchased the Max 8, and the customers expected to fly in the planes, a new competitor has popped up.
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month, Bloomberg reports. As soon as it’s certified (and a trade secrets lawsuit filed by Bombardier is resolved), its launch partner ANA is ready to start flying the small aircraft around the region. While Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd’s long-delayed 88-seat passenger plane is much smaller than the Max 8, it is filling a need for smaller regional aircraft, a piece of the market that Boeing and Airbus have both been angling for.
The regional jet is a smaller aircraft with fewer seats and a smaller fuselage, with a range of about 2,000 miles, making it a perfect option for commuters and domestic travel in countries smaller than the United States (you know, like Japan).
Smaller jets are becoming big business, and the shorter hops they serve are also ideal for more eco-friendly forms of travel, which is why they have been targeted by all-electric plane makers, like Eviation and Ampaire, and the hybrid air company Zunum Aero.