MRJ and Compadres Nearing Completion

I almost can't believe that I first wrote about the Mitsubishi MRJ more than 7 years ago. Mitsubishi has a new website for the project and it looks like their jet is almost ready for its first flight. (7 years later!) It seems like a pretty impressive aircraft. It's geared turbofan engines save money, burn less fuel and make less noise than competitors. It's a Cat IIIa airplane and has the latest Collins avionics. I'm excited to see this clean-sheet design about to hit the market.
Mitsubishi isn't the only company working on a project like this either. I recently got to see the Bombardier CS 100 and CS 300 at the Learjet factory in Wichita, KS. Like the MRJ, the CS jets are gorgeous designs. They look like they're intended for a new era that demands elegance and efficiency. Like the MRJ, the CS series offers advances in range, efficiency, noise reduction, comfort and more. It's been flying for a while and things seem to be going well.
The MRJ isn't just competing with new jets from Bombardier though. The MRJ also faces new designs from Embraer. The ERJ 170 and 190 series jets are already on the market. I've spoken to some EMB-175 pilots and they like the aircraft a lot.
When I first wrote about the MJR, I also mentioned the Sukhoi Superjet 100 as a potential competitor in this market. It's been flying commercially since 2013, despite a crash in on an early demonstration flight. While I think it'd be tough for a Russian-built aircraft to break into American markets, it should definitely be a competitor in this segment throughout the rest of the world.

In an era where the regional airlines can't figure out how to pay pilots enough to attract them while offering customers tickets to attract them, these new designs have the potential to change up the industry. They're new and beautiful, they have the latest in navigation, propulsion and customer comfort technologies. (Some of the major airlines are even looking at acquiring some of these new aircraft. Delta's pay charts at airlinepilotcentral.com list EMB-190 and the CRJ-900, though the deals to purchase those aircraft aren't finalized yet.)

I see a future in the US where we have fewer regional airlines flying fewer segments. I think it'll become necessary for the major carriers to pick up many of these routes...and pay pilots more to fly those routes in these jets than current regional pilots make. I can see pilots spending several years with a major airline flying these smaller aircraft before moving up to "big iron." It wouldn't be a big change from the way the system works now, except that life would be better for the pilots.

I think part of the whole situation will likely involve training contracts that have the airlines footing the bill for a pilot's 1500 hours, CTP, ATP and type rating...in exchange for a commitment from the pilot to work for that airline for a specified (and not short) period of time. The US Air Force has been doing this for decades. USAF pilots trade pilot training and a lot of experience for 10 years of indentured servitude. Overall, I think this will be a better system for everyone. At the very least, I think many future pilots will get to enjoy those years flying some nice, new machines. They have several to choose from: MRJ, ERJ-170/190, CS-100/300, and even the SSJ-100.