Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is reportedly considering reactivating the CRJ assembly line at Montréal Mirabel airport, eyeing the CRJ550 variant for United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) and its regional capacity providers, sources told Leeham News and Analysis.

The manufacturer would not confirm the reports and said it "made no commitment to move forward in this respect".

MHI completed the acquisition of the CRJ programme from Bombardier Aerospace through wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ) on June 1, 2020, for a total cash consideration of CAD550 million Canadian dollars (USD400 million at that time). It continued the assembly of the CRJ900 model but shut down the line at the end of 2020, once all ordered units had been built.

Since the end of the CRJ's production run, MHI has handed over most of the facility to Airbus Canada for A220 assembly. Restarting the CRJ line would thus require the construction of a new plant and possibly support from the Canadian government. For the manufacturer, reviving the CRJ line could prove a lower-cost and easier path towards an increased presence in the regional jet market after it shelved the ill-fated M90 programme in late 2020 over soaring costs. For now, MHI's CRJ-related activities are focused on maintenance and aftermarket support.

Currently, all forty-three CRJ550s are CRJ700 converts and are operated exclusively by GoJet Airlines (G7, St. Louis Lambert Int'l) for United Airlines. The mainline carrier recently said that while, in general, it would seek to upgauge its average fleet size and reduce the number of regional jets in its fleet, the CRJ550 was an exceptionally good 50-seat aircraft that has given United a competitive advantage. It is not clear whether MHI would be looking to develop a conversion line or start assembling new CRJ550s.

The sources identified SkyWest Airlines (OO, Salt Lake City) as a potential CRJ550 customer. While the airline does not operate the type, it, together with leasing arm SkyWest Leasing owns 20 (soon to be 21), units operated by GoJet.