June 21, 2021, © Leeham News: MHIRJ Aviation Group said last week its 100,000 sf expansion of MRO facilities is sized to accommodate narrowbody aircraft.
MHIRJ is the former Bombardier CRJ global product support system purchased last year by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The expansion, valued at $20m, was first disclosed by LNA in its May 31-June 1 one-year anniversary updates.
Ismail Mokabel, Senior Vice President, Head of Aftermarket, told LNA then that MHIRJ would be ready to diversify its aftermarket work beyond the CRJ regional jet after 2023. In a groundbreaking ceremony of the hangar expansion at its Bridgeport (WV) facility June 16, Mokabel disclosed that hangars will be big enough for narrowbody jets.
Several months ago, LNA was told to watch what MHIRJ’s parent, MHI, does with the aftermarket business. MHI bought the CRJ program and its global product support system to lay the foundation for the Mitsubishi SpaceJet program. But shortly before closing the CRJ deal June 1 last year, MHI “suspended” development of the SpaceJet. Since then, MHI defunded the program by 99%. Although officials haven’t officially killed the SpaceJet, the program is considered dead.
This raised questions about the future of MHIRJ. The $20m investment to add 100,000 sf at the Bridgeport facility is a dramatic turnaround since the Bombardier ownership.
Airport, state political figures and Bombardier’s own CRJ people worked for a decade to win corporate funding for expansion. Bombardier’s own weak balance sheet and three simultaneous new airplane development programs nearly drove the company into bankruptcy.
MHI stepped up and committed to grow its new acquisition.
Mokabel said last week that MHIRJ expanded at Bridgeport by erecting a giant tent to service CRJs. The hangar and certification for heavy maintenance was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in three months. Other tents already exist.
When the 100,000 sf of hangar space is added, MHIRJ will have 341,000 sf of hangar space at Bridgeport. Employment will increase by 300 workers. MHIRJ currently wants to add 150 jobs.
MHIRJ and the airport currently employ 2,345 people of the 10,729 across the state in the aviation industry. MHIRJ and the airport account for $775m of the statewide $1.63bn in aerospace revenues.