Mitsubishi’s options for the SpaceJet

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By Scott Hamilton

Introduction

June 2, 2020, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (MHI) yesterday closed the acquisition of the Bombardier CRJ program.

There are 15 CRJs in backlog to complete. But the purpose of the acquisition was to give MHI a global product support system for the SpaceJet.

With the aviation world still reeling and confused by the “suspension” of the SpaceJet program, what are the options going forward?

MHI last month announced it was suspending indefinitely development of the M100 SpaceJet. MHI said it will reevaluate the market demand of the M100. It suspended further flight testing of the M90 SpaceJet. It says it will proceed with office “validation” of the M90 for certification. Facilities in the US and Canada devoted to the SpaceJet program are closing. About half the workforce devoted to SpaceJet in Nagoya, Japan, is being reduced.

Customers that signed MOUs for 495 M100s and which have firm orders for some 200 MRJ90s (the previous brand for the M90) are in limbo. Suppliers are in limbo. MHI’s failure to communicate with them leaves a planeload of questions and no answers.

MHI’s move clears the way for Embraer to have a monopoly in the regional jet space. Unless—unless MHI restarts the SpaceJet program on its own or partners with another company to make a commitment to developing a new airliner.

LNA noted when the Boeing-Embraer joint venture collapsed that this presented opportunities for MHI and Boeing to renew and expand their previous relationship for the MRJ program. Here are some possibilities facing MHI.

Summary
  1. Kill SpaceJet entirely.
  2. Restart SpaceJet.
  3. Resuscitate the agreement for Boeing to support the MRJ program, updating it to the SpaceJet.
  4. Resuscitate and expand the previous agreement, strengthening the development SpaceJet and co-marketing by Boeing.
  5. Create an entirely new cooperative agreement, vastly broadening and strengthening decades-long ties between MHI and Boeing. LNA sees this as including SpaceJet and an entirely new family of aircraft replacing the 737 MAX.
  6. An expanded, broader agreement could even include development of a new “NMA Lite.”
  7. Finally, buy or create a JV with Embraer Commercial Aviation.

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Europe’s Regional airlines meet in Antibes, Cotes d’Azur.

By Bjorn Fehrm 

October 9, 2018, ©. Leeham News, Antibes France: The European Airlines Association, ERA, gathered 44 of its 51 member airlines in Antibes France, today for the first day of its 2019 General Assembly meeting.

LNA participated in the event for the first time and we found an impressive gathering of airline and airport representatives, aircraft OEMs and support businesses discussing the challenges facing the European regional air transport market.

Norway’s Wideroe, the launch customer for Embraer’s E-Jet E2 is one of the airlines present.

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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.

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Pontifications: Heard around the Paris Air Show

June 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Heard around the Paris Air Show last week:

Airbus

Reporters long used to the entertaining and sometimes acerbic tongue former super-salesman John Leahy wondered how Christian Scherer would compare.

By Scott Hamilton

Scherer’s own sharp tongue began to emerge at the Airbus Innovation Days pre-air show briefing last month and got sharper at the executive round table the Friday before and on Day 1 of the international event.

On Day 2, Boeing and International Airlines Group (British Airways, et al) stunned the world journalists and Airbus with the LOI for 200 737 MAXes. On Thursday, Scherer expressed his displeasure.

The deal wasn’t unprecedented. In the 1990s, Boeing blindsided Leahy with an exclusive deal with American Airlines, followed by Delta and Continental airlines. “I was…pissed,” Leahy told LNA years later.

It seems Scherer is following in Leahy’s shoes in more ways than one.

The launch of the A321XLR was totally expected. The top question: does this kill the Boeing NMA? (LNA’s answer: Nope.)

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Evolving the MRJ into the SpaceJet

June 13, 2019, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. (MITAC)’s redesign of the MRJ70 and launch of the M100 SpaceJet in its place reflects a changing market environment when the MRJ program was launched more than a decade ago.

Then, MITAC—and Embraer—thought the restrictive US Scope Clause with the pilots’ unions of US major carriers would be relaxed by now.

MITAC launched the MRJ90 90-seat aircraft, to be followed by the MRJ70, a 70-seat airplane. Embraer launched the E175-E2 re-engined model of the popular E175.

Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet is the new brand for the revised MRI70 design, which has more passengers, a different wing and slightly longer fuselage than the original. Entry into service is planned for 2023. Source: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.

Neither complied with Scope as then defined, specifically the maximum takeoff weight of 86,000 lbs. Each exceeded this limit by about a ton.

(There are restrictions as to the number of seats and number of airplanes that can be operated by regional airline partners, too, but it’s the weight limit that’s the key issue here.)

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