The long, slow death of Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet

 By Scott Hamilton

The Mitsubishi MRJ90, rebranded the SpaceJet, was to be replaced by the M100. The M100 was Scope Clause compliant and certifiable, unlike the poorly conceived MRJ90. Credit: Leeham News.

Feb. 9, 2023, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s (MHI) announcement this week that it finally killed the SpaceJet program is hardly new. This was apparent as far back as January 2020 when all the Canadian and American leadership at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp (MITAC) was unceremoniously booted out. Then, in May 2020, using the COVID pandemic as an excuse, all US operations were closed; so was the recently opened Canadian engineering center; the budget was reduced by 95%; and nearly all the engineers at the home office in Nagoya, Japan, were laid off or reassigned.

MHI refused to state the obvious. Instead, officials said repeatedly that the program was “paused.” This drip, drip, drip was all about saving face. Thus, the slide in MHI’s presentation about why the program was finally being killed was more candid than expected.

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P&W, Embraer pause E175-E2 engine; MTU writes off investment, sees no revenue in future for SpaceJet engine

By Scott Hamilton

Exclusive: Dec. 21, 2021, © Leeham News: Pratt & Whitney and Embraer agreed to suspend further development and production of the PW1700G for three years, LNA learned.

Another airplane without an engine.

PW and Embraer did not respond to inquiries. Separately, the aerospace company MTU reported earlier this year that it wrote off its entire investment in the PW1200G and expects no revenue from the program in the future.

Update: P&W provided this statement Dec. 22: “As already informed to the market, Embraer and P&W are evaluating E175-E2 program timing given market conditions and scope clause.

The engine was developed for the Mitsubishi MRJ. Development of the MRJ90 and follow-on MRJ70 were refined to the M100 SpaceJet when analysis concluded the MRJ90 wasn’t economically competitive with the E190-E2. A myriad of technical flaws also was discovered in the flight test vehicles that rendered the original design uncertifiable.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries indefinitely suspended the SpaceJet program in 2020. Embraer rescheduled the entry-into-service of the E175-E2 from 2021 twice, now targeting EIS for 2025. This depends on US pilot unions relaxing an airplane weight restriction in the labor contracts. The E175-E2 weight exceeds that allowed in the contracts.

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HOTR: Restarting M100 SpaceJet program is a very, very long runway

By the Leeham News Team

Dec. 21, 2021, © Leeham News: Speculation that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) may restart the M100 SpaceJet program seems unrealistic.

The consulting firm Avascent on Dec. 8 reported that MHI and the Japanese government may complete the M90 SpaceJet (formerly the MRJ90) airplanes. This could lead to restarting the M100 SpaceJet.

LNA believes the former might happen. It doubts the latter will. Here’s why.

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Exclusive: Mitsubishi ponders restarting CRJ production

By Scott Hamilton

July 6, 2021, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi is considering restarting production of the discontinued CRJ, LNA confirmed with multiple sources.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries discontinued production with the completion of the last of the small backlog it acquired with the June 1, 2019, purchase of the program from the ailing Bombardier. The final 15 CRJ900s were completed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montreal Mirabel Airport production line was shut down. The tooling was removed and stored. The buildings were turned over to Airbus, which now uses them for A220 production.


Source: Bombardier.

“Our primary focus remains the support of the CRJ operating fleet,” said Ross Mitchell, vice president of Shared Services.  “Clearly, the regional jet market is important to us, but we have made no commitment to move forward in this respect.”

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Pontifications: MHIRJ prepares for narrowbody aftermarket business

By Scott Hamilton

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.

Related stories:

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.

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Mitsubishi’s MHIRJ expanding MRO floor space by 100,000 sf

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Now open to all Readers

By Scott Hamilton

Part 2 of 2. Part 1 appeared here.


June 1, 2021, © Leeham News: It’s been one year today since Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) closed the acquisition of Bombardier’s CRJ program and global aftermarket support system.

In that year, MHI “suspended” development of the M90/M100 SpaceJet regional airliner, reduced funding by 99% and all but shuttered its business. The entire airline and aerospace supply chain industry believes MHI won’t restart the program.

But the Bombardier aftermarket business, renamed MHIRJ Aviation Group, appears to be thriving. MHIRJ expanded, opening a consulting business.

MHI also invested $20m in the expansion of its West Virginia and Arizona CRJ MRO lines. The company celebrates the expansions next month.

A small amount to be sure, but it nevertheless reversed the lack of monies by the nearly bankrupt Bombardier.

“We have the biggest regional MRO network in the world out of Bridgeport, West Virginia, and Tucson, Arizona,” said Ismail Mokabel, Senior Vice President, Head of Aftermarket. At both sites, MHIRJ can run about 30 simultaneous aircraft or equal lines of maintenance at any given time, he said.

MHIRJ is adding another 100,000 square feet of space, expanding two new hangars that will be up and running within the next 12 to 18 months. The contract was signed May 27.

  • Regional airline aftermarket MRO business fell 35%-40% during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • MHIRJ profit-and-loss already is at pre-COVID level.
  • The company will develop performance improvement packages for CRJ.
  • May expand MRO services to other aircraft types after 2023.

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Mitsubishi grows ex-Bombardier business even as SpaceJet rests in limbo

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By Scott Hamilton

Part 1 of 2 Parts


May 31, 2021, © Leeham News: June 1 is the first anniversary of the acquired by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of the Bombardier CRJ program and global support network.

It was on the surface a bittersweet moment.

MHI and Bombardier announced the deal June 25, 2019.

MHI’s aircraft subsidiary, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. (MITAC) was then going full steam ahead with the development of the M100 SpaceJet and certification of the M90 SpaceJet, previously known as the MRJ90.

But in March 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic exploded. By June, MHI put the SpaceJet program in “suspense.” All operations outside Japan were closed and hundreds of employees were laid off. Flight testing in Washington State was terminated. MITAC’s headquarters at Nagoya Airport was shuttered and funding was reduced by 99%. The future of the SpaceJet program is in doubt. MHI says only it will “reassess” during its current fiscal year ending next March 31.

But MHI continued with the CRJ acquisition. After the close, it was renamed MHIRJ.

During the ensuing year, MHIRJ continues to support the global CRJ fleet. It also launched a new advisory/consulting business that encompasses mainline jets, airlines and airports.

  • CRJ customers saw business as usual following the close.
  • Pivoting from SpaceJet to advisory-consulting work.
  • With SpaceJet in limbo, MHI grows acquisition business.

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The SpaceJet impact on MHI’s finances

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By Vincent Valery


May 17, 2021, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) officially launched the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) program on March 28, 2008, at the end of its 2007 fiscal year. The Japanese industrial conglomerate envisioned the maiden delivery in 2013.

Fast forward 13 years, and the now-called SpaceJet development has been “paused” indefinitely. Most believe MHI effectively canceled the program. There is a possibility MHI might never bring the SpaceJet into passenger service.

LNA investigated MHI’s financial statements since 2005 and annual reports since 2007 to understand the impact of the program on the Group. This article takes a deep dive into the sequence of events, from launch to the COVID-19 pandemic, that led to the current state of affairs for the SpaceJet program.

  • Becoming an OEM at the peak of the commercial aviation cycle;
  • Repeatedly shifting program timelines;
  • Solid MHI balance sheet funds project;
  • COVID-19 pandemic tips balance after significant investments;
  • A SpaceJet in limbo.

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Pontifications: Outlook 2021 Series begins today

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 4, 2021, © Leeham News: Beginning today through next week, Leeham News presents its annual Outlook series for the coming year.

We’ve been doing this for years. In recent years, the Outlook reflected continued growth in commercial aviation. The industry had the longest upward tick in the more than three decades I’ve been involved in the sector.

Not this year. As I wrote before the Christmas-New Year’s holiday period, 2020 was the worst year for commercial aviation I’ve ever seen in 41 years.

This year is the beginning of the end of the COVID crisis. Yes, the vaccines began distribution in December, but large spikes in COVID cases began simultaneously and are predicted to climb higher through the first quarter.

Over the coming days, as LNA provides its Outlook for 2021, readers will see what we believe will happen.

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Pontifications: Earnings previews Airbus, Boeing; Watching Mitsubishi

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 26, 2020, © Leeham News: It’s earnings call week for Boeing and Airbus.

And Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is said to plan an announcement “freezing” development of the SpaceJet.

Let’s preview these events.

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