Saab may handle Mitsubishi jet repair

Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said on Thursday that it may outsource maintenance of its regional passenger jet to Swedish aviation group Saab if it goes ahead with the project.

“We are currently considering various options while moving toward a business alliance with Saab on maintenance and repairs,” said a Mitsubishi spokeswoman.

She said that Saab may handle the maintenance work in Europe, the United States and beyond.

The Yomiuri newspaper reported Thursday that Mitsubishi was aiming to reach a final agreement with Saab as soon as next month.

The Japanese group is expected to announce in the next few days whether it is pushing ahead towards a commercial launch of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which it says would be the quietest, lightest and most fuel-efficient model in its class.

It says that if airlines show enough interest, the jet could enter commercial service by 2013.

It would be the first commercial passenger aircraft in four decades — and the first jet airplane — to be developed in Japan.

The plane would have 70 to 90 seats and be equipped with the new energy-saving “geared turbofan” engine designed by US-based Pratt & Whitney.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways has said it is considering buying the new plane if it is built, and Japan Airlines is reported to have shown interest.

But Dubai-based airline Emirates has denied a report that it was planning to buy the jet.