Mitsubishi Heavy is overseeing the government-backed project, which is part of a larger effort by Japan to develop aircraft that are more fuel efficient and make less noise, Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman Hideo Ikuno said. It is still premature to say Rolls-Royce will be a definite supplier of the engine at this point, but it is definitely a possibility, he said.
The spokesman added the MJ (Mitsubishi Jet), with 70 to 90 seats, a level required to be qualified as a passenger plane, would be the first Japan-made passenger jetliner if the heavy machinery maker decided to proceed with the project.
The MJ will offer fuel economy of 20% above that of comparable existing models, he said.
Mitsubishi Heavy has said the company plans to set up a special purpose company to finance the MJ project and seek investment by major banks and trading companies to diversify financial risk.
The company said it would decide if the project was viable by the end of the next business year. More than half of passenger jetliners flying in Japan are made by either Boeing Co. or Airbus.