Mitsubishi SpaceJet grounded to a halt
Japan's first passenger jet was probably never viable
Japan has finally admitted that building the Mitsubishi SpaceJet, the nation’s first passenger aircraft, was not a good idea. The project appears to have been grounded forever.
Japan abandoned plans to build its first passenger jet after years of technology setbacks and costs running out of control.
According to the Guardian, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will cancel the public-private SpaceJet partnership, a decade after the aircraft was supposed to have begun commercial flights. The company said the jet had “failed to confirm sufficient business viability.”
The twin-engined Mitsubishi SpaceJet, designed to carry fewer than 100 passengers, was intended for short flights and was supposed to open a new chapter in Japan’s aviation sector.
But the 2008 project under the name Mitsubishi Regional Jet missed its 2013 rollout and was put on hold in October 2020 as demand for aircraft collapsed during the pandemic.
Some test flights were aborted because of air conditioning defects and revisions to the original design were required.
The firm’s president, Seiji Izumisawa, said that Mitsubishi “lacked the know-how” to develop passenger jets.
In a masterpiece of Japanese business-speak, Izumisawa said…
“We are no longer sure of its business viability.
“It was difficult to obtain understanding and cooperation from global partners. Further extensive funding would be needed to get the plane approved.”
North American regulations, pilot shortages and the need to find decarbonisation solutions contributed to the project’s demise. The decision would have “no material impact” on the company’s financial results.
The aircraft, renamed Mitsubishi SpaceJet in 2019, was supported by the Japanese government and domestic firms including Toyota. At one point it had attracted about 450 orders, including those from Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, but many were cancelled.
While all aircraft projects of any description are doomed to delay, the Mitsubishi SpaceJet suffered particularly badly. Mitsubishi Heavy was perhaps too confident of its ability to build a passenger jet, having previously manufactured only fighter planes during WWII.
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