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SpaceJet program from Mitsubishi in danger

Johanna Koyser
14.05.2020
4 minutes

About two months ago, WingMag was able to announce great news from Japan. The SpaceJet program from Mitsubishi entered the final phase of the certification program at that time. The company celebrated the first test flight with a SpaceJet aircraft that complied with the basic configurations eligible for certification. Unfortunately, however, even this trend-setting project of the Japanese mega corporation was not spared by the Corona crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge for society as a whole, and there are parts of MHI Group’s business that are already facing significant impact especially in industries like commercial aviation and automotive.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

It has now become public that parts of Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet program are on hold. As a reminder: The goal of the SpaceJet program is to produce aircraft made in Japan, which are particularly suitable for regional air traffic due to their size. Two model variants were presented, the M90 and M100. The latter variant and its further development will now be paused for a moment. The Group states that the costs for the SpaceJet program are simply too high for the current economic situation. From now on, the company wants to concentrate fully on the finalization of the M90. However, there could also be problems in the not too distant future.

SpaceJets destined for the US market

Mitsubishi hoped to conquer US regional traffic with its aircraft from the SpaceJet program. This is where most of the world’s regional routes are operated with smaller aircraft. However, the remaining SpaceJet M90 model is too large for this market according to guidelines. In the United States, it is prohibited to fly aircraft with a weight of more than 39,000 kg and more than 76 seats on regional routes. The M90 exceeds both dimensions. As a result, Trans States Holding had already cancelled an order for 50 M90s last October. In the hope that the smaller model M100 could be ordered instead.

All in all, the situation around the Mitsubishi SpaceJet program could become even worse in the coming weeks and months. Two months ago, we at WingMag were still expecting to see the first commercial aircraft made in Japan in the skies next year. Today, this future is more than uncertain.

Picture © CHIYODA I / CC BY-SA

by Johanna Koyser

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