Pontifications: Montreal facility is the next step for SpaceJet program

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 23, 2019, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp (MITAC) last week opened a new office facility in Montreal intended to initially support certification of the M90 regional jet and participate in the development of the M100 and M200 follow-on airplanes.

The M90 entry-into-service is targeted for next year.

Japan’s regulatory agency, JCAB, hasn’t certified a new airliner since the turbo-prop YS-11 of the 1960s. Japan’s aerospace industry developed several military aircraft, but none of these required civilian certification.

Alex Bellamy, the chief development office of the M-Series program, called SpaceJet, said, “The development of this [Montreal] center is the last of the piece of the puzzle” to certify the M90 and advance what was originally known as the MRJ program.


Given the global upheaval in aircraft certification as a result of the Boeing 737 MAX crisis, the obvious question arises: what, if any, impact will there be on certifying the M90.

“I don’t see any significant issue with global regulators,” Bellamy said. “As for the change to the approach for certification, I think that will happen. The JCAB has no bilateral agreement with the other agencies. One of the main reasons for the program and entering into service is to get that bilateral agreement and build the capability with the M90.”

Long-term strategy

“For long-term strategy, need to tap into talent wherever they are in the world,” Bellamy said. “The three-site philosophy is a way of doing that: Japan, the US and Canada are options” for engineering, technical and support talent.

It also enables 24/7 work, he said. Montreal, Seattle and Japan (Nagoya, where MITAC is headquartered) complement each other with time zones.

Bombardier agreed to sell its CRJ program (including product support on a global basis) to MITAC’s parent, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), and will terminate production of the CRJ next year. But Bellamy said there’s no direct correlation with termination of CRJ program. “That’s a sustaining program,” he said, referring to the global support system.

Continued product development

With the M90 on its downwind leg toward certification, Bellamy said medium-term focus is now on the M100.

“We are very much in a product development mode,” he said. “This is really great opportunity for people to continue to product development.”

The choice of Montreal was made by the talent pool of the existing aerospace cluster, including those associated with the CRJ program. A job fair was schedule last weekend.

Quebec support

The Quebec Provincial government also supports the site location.

“The Quebec government took three months…from first conversation to announcement” to go through the steps necessary for MITAC to establish this presence, Bellamy said.

“They moved extremely fast,” he said. “As you know, entering this business is extremely difficult. Competitors want to keep everybody out.

“All competitors hope you fail,” Bellamy said. “This isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about bringing choice to the market. Government of Quebec vowed support for us and it’s that kind of support that new market entrants need.”

25 Comments on “Pontifications: Montreal facility is the next step for SpaceJet program

  1. Interesting that the demise of Bombardier companies colided with Airbus replacement requiremenst in the 120-160 seat segment and now Mitac needing a MRO fix and certification support for their new jets. The M90-100,200 really don’t bite with the bigger A220’s or BBD business jets. The Canadians ability to ~rapidly able to give up national pride for business, without letting things drag on for years, is working to their benefit now.. The CRJ assembly closusre will hurt a lot of jobs, but there’s opportunity.

    • They certainly seem to be concentrating on keeping something going, and I wish them well in that. If they’re still making aircraft in numbers there in 10, 15 years time (and I think they will – that’s some excellent designs going to be built there), then that would something to be proud of.

      Regarding “national pride” – that’s often mixed up with military-industrial priorities. Canada doesn’t have large military aircraft like B52 to worry about, so their military wouldn’t necssarily be screaming to preserve the manufacturing capability.

      However pop accross the border to the USA, and the thought of losing the ability to build large aircraft (e.g. Boeing goes bust) would have the DoD / USAF wringing their hands with worry. Might skew the governmental response to existential problems for the company.

      • Boeing does heaps of different things even on the military side , its a whole division ,Defence and Space.
        Satellites, Orbital Rockets, Helicopters, Missiles , Fighters ( and soon trainers) etc.
        It Boeing Commercial Aircraft , based in Seattle didnt survive – 99% change it will survive, the other divisions would just be snapped up by different contractors.
        And for large bombers , Northrop is prime on the B21 and could use manufacturers like Spirit, Triumph and so on.

  2. It’s game on in the regional market, three very good airplanes squaring up to each other, A220, E195-E2 and Spacejet, from larger to smaller.

    The big question is up-sizing. Airbus 20 year market forecast basically up-sized the narrowbody market in terms of the number of seats, ~10,400 210 seaters, ~11,400+ 175 seaters, ~4,700 150 seaters and so on.

    The forecast confirms they will do the A220-500.

    Airbus’ forecast does question the lower seat market, but you would expect it to, the A220 has higher seating than the E195-E2 and Space Jet

    Decent market for all three contenders. PW need to get the GTF sorted out. But expect a second source engine eventually.

    Nice to see competition where the technology is up there.

      • Exastly my thinking when I read this.

        So now we have an operation that could not get a single aircraft certified scatted over half the worlds time zones (787 anyone) .

        24 hour a day operation! What a snootfull of cow manure. So you have 3 exact duplicate operations min 3 different locations and hand stuff off from shift to shift? I don’t think so.

        And all the money spent is going to amount to how much for an operation that has yet to put a single regional jet into operation.

        • They are buying the entire CRJ project including type approval and spares support. Those people definitely will have to move out of Bombardiers offices into their new Mitac HQ.
          As well, remember type certification covers three distinct areas

          The Airworthiness flying is being done at Moses Lake, they are likely wanting to be tapping more of the Bombardier experienced people in the design and manufacture side.

          • Yea I get what they are buying and they have to support it

            But 24 hour operations in Mosses Lake and Japan with something to do with the CJ? I don’t think so.

            Lo many years ago I was in charge of a crunch project with severe deadlines having to get floor to ceiling partition into an entire office building.

            It was good stuff and supported by two factory empolyeess. Overall it went well.

            But when we hit a Basebaord heater it mucked up the plan as they did not fit right. I figured it out and we modified them and got back on track (figurative and literally as the alignment tracks were in the ceiling grid)

            So the VP for the outfit is visiting and he tried to tell our VP how versatile the proceducty is that it can be modified to work.

            Our VP happened to be a lot like me, he did not buy BS and he looks at the guy and says, that is a load of bull. You screwed up and my crew bailed you and us out. Don’t try that line again. Credit goes to the crew.

            Yea, in the end we were a lean mean very efficient team and we finished the job a day before the deadline that cold not be adjusted as leases ended and the stuff was coming into the building regardless.

          • Hi A lot of the Bombardier talent no longer works at Bombardier. Massive lay offs over the last few years have seen to that. Montreal has a great talent pool and with decent management a design/product development Centre in Montreal will do well.

      • So you are saying there is no easy govt money in the USA or Europe? lol

        • No, we just don’t agree with the BS end.

          Its like the airlines saying we bought a new airplane because its carbon friendly. Pure crock, its efficient and they save money and that is fine, but to tell me its for the planet is nonsense.

          Mitsubishi needed to pick up the parts and pieces of the CJ operation and they got a hand with it as well. Plane and simple.

          Manufactures used to make money without government involvement.

          Today’s corporate welfare pigs are a joke.

          • Moses Lake is clearly only the test flying for the Airworthyness side. .
            Who is doing the certification for the Production side ? Wouldnt you use existing expertise, especially if its located not that far away from its new ‘baby’ the CRJ program

    • See AA and UAL gains says they are not interested in the A220 but are looking for 2nd hand A319’s. My personal view is that this could be engine driven to a large extent.

      Therefore hope AB is looking into/working on an A220-500 with CFM engines, think such an aircraft could rack up orders big time.

      • American flies a 100 seater E190 and they think they dont need a 110 seater ?
        There wont be a Leap engined A220
        The United airlines A319s are IAE V2500 series engines , and same again with American A320s

        • According to Wiki UAL (2nd hand aircraft orders incl) operates 100 A319’s, 100 A320’s, 60 B737-700, 140 B737-800, 150 B737-900/ER’s, 50 B752’s. This is a total of 600 “old generation” single aisles.

          New aircraft in operation and on order are 140 MAX9/10’s.

          At some point UAL will have to make big decisions on new generation single aisle aircraft.

          AA situation is better with them likely to focus on the MAX8’s and 321NEO’s, the only question is the 100-150 seat replacement segment 150 x A319/320’s. I thought the A220-300/”500″ with be the perfect fit, maybe E195E2’s are in with a chance at AA?

          Could AA end up with a relatively simplistic SA fleet consisting of E195E2’s, MAX8’s and A321NEOS.

          • United was buying its 737-900s right up till the time of changeover to Max production.
            Capital expenditure plans would mean they only slowly take out the very oldest planes first. The fuel price peak up till say 2014 was a big reason for the order bubble for the manufacturers, that pressure has mostly gone and for US majors they are back to replacement only

      • The big issue for all of the three airplanes in the market sector is the engine.

        Be clear I’m not saying grounding, so please don’t say I am. If the MRO is there to satify the regulators, then it done and dusted for me.

        The issue for airlines is that they are increasing the utilisation of their airplanes. Airlines are pushing towards an average utilisation of 15hour/day. That’s 5475 hours/year. At 5000 hours/year that’s a 100,000 hours over 20 years. In days gone by it was 60,000 hours over 20 years. So airlines are pushing utilisation to make the most of capital costs.

        Engine MRO on the PW GTF suggests that it will not allow that kind of utilisation in the long term. But we will see. PW are providing an awful lot of spare engines to keep airplanes flying. Swap out appears to be quick. But at the moment there aren’t that many engines on wing. So can they do it with 1000s of engines on wing? Big, big question!

  3. The M100 could be a very useful aircraft to replace CRJ900’s and E170/175E1’s in future. It could potentially also replace DASH8’s and ATR72’s in many instances.

    Lets see if they can get the project sorted and into production. As for the CS and Airbus was wondering about ATR in this formula, not the money but the technical skills and production and support experience?

  4. @Richard Brown: “Another reason to locate in Quebec is easy govt money and lots of it.”

    In this case we are talking of 9M USD (12M CAD). And it remains a loan until fulfillment of all commitments.

  5. A segment that seems to be forgotten is the 35-50 seat small jets, ERJ35/45, CRJ200, D328, etc. Will this market disappear or will someone develop a modern new jet aircraft of this size.

    The electric powered aircraft of this size a possibility but speed and range will always be a question.

    • Is someone trying to put the do-328 back into production, again, with US money involved?

      I liked the SAAB 340, but the Saab 2000 derivative was a flop.

      Wasn’t the Dash8-100 in that size category, depending on if it had a main deck baggage compartment as AC used SEA-YYJ/YVR, it sold many as the commuter market was evolving.

      There are emerging products in the small end of the market, Cape Air has ordered what looks like a mini Twin Otter (c/w piston engines), the big Pilatus single and perhaps the new Cessna bigger-than-Caravan are noteworthy. And you can buy a new Twin Otter. (It is the top end of the 19-passenger category which is determined by needing only one F/A, IIRC.)

      The there’s the 30-passenger category, the VFW614 and Nord 262 were examples but used DC-3s were still viable then. (I haven’t looked up what the SAAB 340 capacity was.)

      And way back

      The small end of the market seems to fluctuate, but with the volume of air travel today is larger than it was back when. Short-route is in competition with automobiles, for example the Coquihalla freeway made day-trips from Vancouver BC to Kamloops feasible though a long day (and one could go right to destination without the bother of renting a car).

      Close-in airports like Edmonton Industrial (closed by a money-grubbing city council) and London Docklands aid air travel.

  6. Mitsubishi has been using consultants and DERs in WA state to certify the first version.

    I expect there are many good engineers and other people in the Montreal area, educated on past programs including the C-Series. And thanks to taxpayers ‘centres of excellence’ or such for avionics and structures.

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