Business & Economy

First Japanese commercial airplane project axed after 15 years

Tokyo, Feb 7 (EFE).- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced Tuesday the definitive cessation of the project to develop the first Japanese-made commercial jet aircraft after 15 years plagued by setbacks and delays that led to its halt in 2020.

The program was announced in 2008 with a budget of JPY 1 trillion ($7.6 billion) and under the name Mitsubishi Regional Jet, although the name of the aircraft would later be changed to SpaceJet M90.

The first delivery of the plane, designed with a capacity for 90 passengers, was scheduled for 2013, but was postponed due to frequent technical problems and the drop in travel demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which paralyzed the project to reduce costs.

The company received some 450 orders for the SpaceJet at one point, applicants for which included Japan’s two largest airlines, ANA and JAL, but the number was cut by just over half due to cancellations stemming from development setbacks.

The public-private project generated a lot of excitement among the country’s component manufacturers, who jumped at increased capital spending in the hope of increased demand, but repeated delays and setbacks caused them to back off due to uncertainty and potential losses.

Mitsubishi Heavy announced the cessation of the project in its financial report from April to December, the first nine months of its fiscal year, in which its net profit increased by 32.8 percent year-on-year, up to JPY 66 billion.

Among the reasons for ending SpaceJet production are the need for technology overhauls “due to long development,” including some related to emissions; the inability to achieve the necessary certification in North America and insufficient funding to continue with that process.

The Japanese company said it had an “insufficient initial understanding of the highly complex process of certification types for commercial aircraft” and advocated applying the lessons learned during the project to new programs aimed at creating next-generation technologies for the aeronautical sector. EFE


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