Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. said Friday it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mesa Airlines Inc., a U.S. regional air carrier, to commence negotiations for the sale of 100 of its SpaceJet aircraft, Japan's first homegrown commercial passenger jet.
The unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said deliveries to Mesa of the SpaceJet M100, capable of accommodating around 70 passengers, would begin in 2024, with the contract to be worth around 400 billion yen ($3.74 billion).
Mitsubishi Aircraft, which has developed two models of the plane, has so far received orders for around 400 SpaceJets since the project started but no new orders since 2016 due to repeated delays in the company's planned delivery date because of design modifications.
The planes, originally called the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, were renamed in June while the developer also reviewed the design of the SpaceJet M100 to allow a more flexible seat configuration and more personal space for passengers.
The measure was intended to cater to high demand for jets with about 70 seats in the major North American market.
The Japanese company said it is also currently negotiating with another North American client to sell 15 of its SpaceJet M100.
Its other model is the SpaceJet M90, which can seat about 90 passengers.
Mesa is entrusted by American Airlines Inc. and United Airlines Inc. to operate domestic flights in the United States as well as regional services to and from Canada, Mexico, Cuba and the Bahamas.
The U.S. company is likely considering the purchase of SpaceJets as Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc. will end the production of jets used by Mesa next year.