posted on Jul, 2 2013 @ 07:18 PM
The new regional jets by Embraer, and Mitsubishi are just what small airlines are looking for. They're larger, and have a significantly lower
operating cost than current aircraft operated by them. However, operators of them, including Skywest, which has 100 Mitsubishi MRJ90LR, and 100
Embraer 175-E2, with options for 100 more of each, have a problem. The aircraft may not be able to operate in US airspace due to contracts with
Most airlines, with the exception of Alaska Airlines, have a contract with their pilots that fly regional jets, that they can't fly anything
certified in the US, with an MTOW over 86,000 pounds. The E175 comes in at 97,731 pounds, and the MRJ90 is at 87,303 on the standard model, 90,378
for the extended range, and 94,358 for the long range. The MRJ90LR is 2600 pounds too heavy.
Mitsubishi has come up with an interesting approach to the problem. They are going to certify the aircraft initially at the maximum weight, and then
reduce it to each customers maximum weight allowed. Skywest is planning for a 76 seat, two class configuration to comply.
The only other option is to negotiate a new contract with the pilots unions. With so many pilots on furlough still, this could prove to be extremely
difficult. Embraer has time for this to happen, as the E175 won't start to be delivered until 2020. The MRJ90 on the other hand, will be delivered
to Trans States in 2016 and Skywest in 2017.
Airlines have high hopes for the next generation of regional jets, which are larger and promise to have much lower unit costs than earlier and
smaller models. But U.S. carriers have to face the question of whether their pilots will actually allow them to fly some of these aircraft types.
Mitsubishi Aircraft and Embraer face a potentially hefty problem in the U.S. market with the new regional jets they are developing: a maximum takeoff
weight (MTOW) that could prevent regional carriers from operating the jets for their major airline partners.
To boost—and protect—their sales in the U.S., manufacturers will have to either trim the weight, change the certificated weight for the U.S.
market or hope for a change in pilots' union collective bargaining agreements.
Almost all of the union contracts with the major U.S. carriers—with Alaska Airlines being one notable exception—forbid them from outsourcing
flying to any aircraft certificated in the U.S. with an MTOW exceeding 86,000 lb. But the specifications Embraer just unveiled for its E175-E2 show an
MTOW of 97,731 lb. Mitsubishi Aircraft's specifications for the MRJ90 indicate an MTOW of 87,303 lb. for the standard model, 90,378 lb. for the
extended range and 94,358 lb. for the long range, and its MR70LR is about 2,600 lb. over the contractual maximum.