Mitsubishi Scraps Troubled SpaceJet

Mitsubishi Scraps Troubled SpaceJet

DALLAS – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has revealed that it will terminate its SpaceJet regional aircraft program after placing the project on “temporary pause” in 2020.

The formal termination was announced in the manufacturer’s Q3 2022 financial results. In the results, MHI said that the “paused SpaceJet M90 development activities are to be discontinued.”

MHI said that ‘insufficient initial understanding of the highly complex type certification process for commercial aircraft’ and ‘insufficient resources to continue long-term development’ were to blame for the termination. To date, MHI has spent over ¥1tr (US$7.5 billion) on the aircraft.

The aircraft’s original branding. Photo: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation

Promising Start

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), later rebranded as the “Spacejet,” was launched 15 years ago following an order for 25 airframes from All Nippon Airways (NH). As well as the MRJ90, MHI also had plans for a shorter 70- to 80-seater MJ70 and a larger MJ100. But plans for service introduction in 2013 came and went following various delays.

On November 11, 2015, the prototype JA21MJ operated its maiden flight. However, delays continued with design and certification issues, and costs continued to spiral.

Scope Clause Issues

The spacious cabin of the SpaceJet. Photo: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation.

Despite orders coming from both Japanese and US regional carriers, the latter was impacted by the scope clause agreements in the US by pilot unions. This limits the size of aircraft a regional airline can operate. Hopes that the restrictions would be eased were not forthcoming, and an order from Trans State Holdings, which operates feeder services for United Express, was subsequently canceled.

MHI went on to launch the 76-seat MJ100 at the 2019 Paris Air Show, targeted specifically at the US market to get around the scope clause.

Some 3,900 flight test hours were achieved “with no safety issues.” MHI added that it would utilize the lessons learned during its new joint military program with the UK and Italy to build a new, highly advanced fighter jet.

Featured Image: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation

European Deputy Editor
Writer and aviation fanatic, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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