Mitsubishi misses out on plane orders at Farnborough

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Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which is making Japan's first ever passenger jet, said on Wednesday that it was hopeful of announcing new orders soon after failing to secure any deals here.

"We have been trying very hard to make an announcement during the show but unfortunately we couldn't make it, but we are expecting to reach some agreement in the foreseeable future," MRJ's head of sales, Masao Yamagami, told reporters at the Farnborough International Airshow.

The state-backed company is expected to take to the skies in 2014 with its 70-90 seater fuel-efficient planes.

However, while current regional jet powerhouse Embraer of Brazil has secured multi-billion dollar orders at Farnborough for its planes, MRJ has failed to add to its two customers and was able to provide only an update on the manufacturing process.

"Our programme is on time," MRJ President Hideo Egawa told a press conference.

"We will start to fabricate parts for the MRJ" before the end of 2010, he added.

The ambitious project received a huge boost ahead of Farnborough when MRJ landed a 100-plane order worth up to four billion dollars from US carrier Trans States.

It is the second order for the MRJ, which aims to meet growing demand for fuel-efficient planes.

The project officially got off the ground in 2008 after launch customer All Nippon Airways agreed to buy up to 25 of the jets.

But it quickly flew into turbulence as the global economic downturn unleashed a severe slump in the aviation industry that forced many carriers, including Japan Airlines, to slash jobs and routes to keep flying.

The Mitsubishi jet project, which has financial backing from Toyota Motor, is also competing with small aircraft produced by Canada's Bombardier, as well as jets designed by Russian and Chinese firms.

The plane saves 20 to 30 percent in fuel burn per hour compared with other jets in the same category, Mitsubishi officials claim.

© 2010 AFP

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