Bombardier Inc. confirmed in a note to its stakeholders that it is discussing the future of its CRJ aircraft program with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a discussion that is likely to lead to a sale, according to financial and market speculation. Bombardier earlier stated it would explore strategic options for the CRJ series, a twin-engine regional aircraft series.
"We will no further comment on the nature of the discussions," the Montreal-based OEM added.
"Before any agreement can be reached further review and analysis by Bombardier management and approval by Bombardier's board of directors are required, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. must complete its due diligence review and own analysis and approval process, which are outside of Bombardier's control. There can be no assurance that any such discussions will ultimately lead to an agreement," the statement continued.
The CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet) series consists of six aircraft models for 50 to 104 passengers. Bombardier introduced the latest model earlier this year, the 50-seat CRJ550 aircraft, with United Airlines as the launch customer.
With over 1,800 CRJ aircraft delivered to numerous airlines, Bombardier has described it as "the most successful family of regional jets."
Mitsubishi is the majority shareholder for Mitsubishi Aircraft — a joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp. that is developing the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, a 90-seat, twin-engine aircraft that Mitsubishi HI will manufacture.
Last fall, Bombardier sued Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., a U.S. aircraft engineering and consulting business, and some former Bombardier employees, claiming the rival jet builder profited from trade secrets unlawfully passed by the former employees to Mitsubishi.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries countersued.
Bombardier’s suit contended that its employees were recruited by Mitsubishi or AeroTEC to provide insight gained from the Bombardier C Series twin-engine jet program. Further, Bombardier contended that the employees provided confidential documents and data concerning the certification of C Series in the U.S. and Canada.
The C Series is now known as the Airbus A200 family of twin-engine narrow-body aircraft. It was developed and introduced by Bombardier, which then sold a majority stake in the program to Airbus. Airbus shares production and marketing for the A200 family.
Bombardier also confirmed it closed the sale of its Q Series aircraft program assets to De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. for approximately $300 million. These are smaller, twin-turboprop regional aircraft.
Mitsubishi has not commented on the discussions with Bombardier but in late May it announced that it has “several announcements (concerning the MRJ) planned” at the biannual Paris Air Show, which begins on June 16. “Our company has evolved, the market has changed, and customers are demanding more,” the company stated on May 29. “Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation is ready to not only redefine this global market, but to also capture it.”