Bombardier has said that it is in talks with Japanese firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to sell its loss-making Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) commercial aircraft business to focus on private jets.

The CRJs are regional jets with a seating capacity of 50 to 104 passengers and have a maximum range around 3,000km. The central fuselages of these planes are manufactured at Bombardier’s facility in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In recent years, Bombardier has concentrated on bringing the C Series airliner, rebranded as the A220, to market. These are 100 to 150-seat aircraft that can fly twice the distance covered by CRJs.

Aviation news service The Air Current originally reported that Mitsubishi is in negotiations to buy the CRJ and that an announcement is expected at the start of the Paris Air Show in France on 17 June.

In May, Bombardier put its Northern Ireland operation up for sale. Last year, the company sold part of its passenger jet operations to Airbus.

Mitsubishi Heavy confirmed that it is in talks to buy the CRJ business. The company is looking for expertise to develop and certify its regional jet programme, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ).

The MRJ will be Japan’s first domestically produced passenger jet, a 90-seat aircraft that is expected to compete with the CRJ and aircraft from Brazil’s Embraer.

Does civil aviation need nationalisation to survive?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Mitsubishi Heavy said in a statement: “It is true that we are in discussions relating to a possible transaction involving Bombardier’s regional jet programme.

“However, neither has any corporate decision been made nor are there any prospects as to the contents of such a transaction.”

“Mitsubishi Heavy is looking for expertise to develop and certify its regional jet programme, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet.”

The deal, if successful, is expected to boost the production capability of the Japanese company by providing Bombardier’s patents, engineering team, sales and support network, as well as an installed base of customers, particularly in North America.

For Bombardier, divesting the last remaining line of commercial aircraft would mark the end of 33 years of commercial aerospace history.

Bombardier said that it would explore strategic options for the CRJ programme.

Recently, Bombardier had taken Mitsubishi Aircraft, a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy, to court over allegations that former Bombardier employees divulged trade secrets to help with the development and certification of the MRJ regional jet.

Mitsubishi’s MRJ has been delayed by several years and its first customer, ANA Holdings, which was supposed to receive the Mitsubishi Regional Jet in 2013, now expects the aircraft in 2020.