Regional jet demand to peak in 2025 as current fleets are retired

Regional jet demand to peak in 2025 as current fleets are retired

Second day of PNAA conference examines 70-to-100-seat jetliner market.


Roger Marszalek, Mitsubishi Aircraft marketing manager, is upbeat about regional jet demand.

Lynnwood, Washington – The second day of the 17th annual Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) commercial aerospace conference focused on trends gaining attention throughout the supply chain: Industry 4.0, augmented reality, digitalization, and greater transparency between the tiers. The agenda also gave special attention to the regional jet market, with presentations by Aerospace Market Analysis (AIR) director Michel Merluzeau, Embraer market analysis director Tobias Caldas, and Mitsubishi Aircraft marketing manager Roger Marszalek.

While nowhere near as large as the order books for Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 airliners, the market for regional jets (70-to-100-passengers) is poised for growth, the experts say. In the forecast period 2017 to 2032, the U.S. will account for 70% of the world’s regional jets in a market valued at $270 billion, according to Merluzeau.

For about 43% of all domestic U.S. flights, the major carriers use smaller-jet operators to bring passengers to mainline hubs. Economics of short-haul routes and traveler preferences are likely to reinforce demand for the smaller jets, which have largely replaced turboprops on U.S. routes.

Caldas reports Embraer has a backlog of 400 of its popular E Jets, with 1,835 ordered. The company’s next-generation E Jets, the 70-to-90 seat E-175-E2 and 130-passenger E-195 E2, are expected to offer greater fuel efficiency, less noise, and more cabin room than their predecessors when they enter service in 2021 and 2019, respectively. Although the jets are assembled in Brazil, Embraer has built supplier relationships globally – an area of interest to many of the conference attendees.

An E-Jet competitor – the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) – designed a decade ago, now has four flight test vehicles undergoing environmental and other tests from their base at Moses Lake, Washington. The first production MRJs are scheduled to go to customers in 2020.

Roger Marszalek, MRJ marketing manager, notes that in Mitsubishi Aircraft’s market outlook, 1,854 of the forecast global demand for 5,010 regional jets in the next 20 years are destined for North America – more than 2x more than the next largest market, Europe. Strong demand will continue, he explains, as current aircraft reach 20 years in service from 2022 to 2027. The number of regional jets needed to replace those being retired during this time will peak at 200 per year in 2025.

Marszalek’s positive outlook for a market often discounted in other commercial aircraft sales forecasts was welcomed with enthusiastic applause.