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.”
“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.
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.
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.”