The pandemic of the new coronavirus has done enormous damage to Mitsubishi’s ambitious SpaceJet program. The family of regional jets that were supposed to compete with Embraer aircraft had a good part of its resources cut due to the losses accumulated by the company and that got worse with the advent of COVID-19.
As a result, the Japanese planemaker decided to reduce investment in the program, focusing its efforts on developing the M90 variant only in Japan, which means ending the tests carried out in the USA with its test planes.
But more important was the confirmation of the suspension of the SpaceJet M100 project, a jet for up to 76 passengers and which should be a direct competitor to Embraer’s E175-E2.
Delayed, the development program predicted that the new plane would start operating in 2023, but the repeated delays with the M90, which certification was expected for this year, motivated the planemaker to focus its efforts on this model only.
The M100 was already a design review on the MRJ70 jet and should have modifications to meet the scope clause of US airlines, something that the new Embraer plane does not contemplate under current rules. Mitsubishi even obtained a commitment to purchase 100 units of the M100 last year from Mesa Airlines.
Program concentrated in Japan
In Friday’s announcement, Mitsubishi said it would close all overseas operations and consolidate its activities in Nagoya, Japan. As a result, its headquarters in Renton and the testing area in Moses Lake, USA, will be closed. Of the five prototypes, four are in place and will be sent back to Japan.
The delivery of the first SpaceJet M90 to All Nippon Airways, which should have taken place in 2013, will be delayed yet again. Last week, the company had said that it was forecast to happen by April 2021 or later.