By Elsa Baxter
UAE carrier one of several in Mideast interested in jet that can cut fuel use by 20%.
Etihad Airways is in talks with the Japanese firm Mitsubishi over a new jet that can cut fuel consumption by up to 20 percent.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier is just one of several airlines in the Middle East interested in the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Emirates Business reported on Wednesday.
The plane, which has been bought by the Japanese airline ANA, and Trans State Holding of the US, will take its first test flight at the end of 2012 and start commercial operations in 2014.
"We expect a strong demand for this aircraft because it will save money. We have secured orders from Japan and the US and are negotiating with some airlines in the Middle East. The negotiations include Etihad Airways. They are in the first stages but Etihad has expressed interest in the jet," Hiromichi Takakuma, manager of marketing at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, told the paper.
The MRJ’s “game-changing engine, state-of-the-art aerodynamic design, and noise analysis technology” allows it to reduce fuel consumption, noise and emissions by up to 20 percent, Takakuma said.
A prototype is on display at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Mitshubishi design is magnificent, but design is just a small part of airplane-making. The specialists doubt the MRJ project could successfully compete with well-known planes made by Canadian Bombardier and Brazilian Embraer. Make reliable and efficient airplanes is challenging task and Mitsubishi has a big problem. They promised a 87,200lb weight for the standard MRJ90, but real plane development is showing a much heavier plane. It has raised lot of questions from airlines and so far the company has no answer for them. Instead, they are now promising extra gain in efficiency due to new PW turbofans as a compensation for the project mistakes. Airlines are not yet convinced of that.