Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has announced that it is suspending the development of its SpaceJet M90, to reduce financial losses. The Japanese group announced the move as part of a readjustment of its medium-term business plan, revealing it will continue to work on the type certification paperwork with the possible intention to restart the programme at a later date. The reason for the decision had been blamed on the impact of COVID-19 which has devastated the commercial aviation industry.
In October, Mitsubishi Aircraft announced that it had suspended plans to conduct flight testing of the 88-seat M90 twinjet at Moses Lake, Washington, and had also stopped its development work on the 76-seat M100. At the time, MHI did not reveal a revised schedule for the completing certification on the M90, which was already behind schedule since its launch in 2008.
“Given the current development status and market conditions, we have no choice but to temporarily pause the majority of SpaceJet activities, except for type certification documentation,” said MHI in its ‘2021 Medium-Term Business Plan’ running through 2023. “We will work to review where we stand, make improvements, and assess a possible program restart,” it stated.
MHI predicts that the commercial aviation industry will only begin to recover in late 2024. It said it will remain active in the aerostructures sector through a plan to “increase production efficiency and drive forward new technology development to participate in future global aircraft programs.”
In contrast to MHI, during a podcast interview this week with Air Finance Journal, Embraer’s Rodrigo Silva e Souza, who is Marketing Vice President of the Brazilian manufacturer’s Commercial Aviation division, has plans to introduce a new twin-turboprop aircraft to respond to airlines’ need to reduce operating costs during pandemic conditions. He said that the new design could be ready to enter service in 2027.
On 29 October, Embraer released conceptual images of what initially looked like a revised 78-seat E175, with turboprops in place of turbofans. In a personal tweet referencing the same design, Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO Arjan Meijer referenced it in terms of “check out how we intend to emerge from the pandemic.” Embraer had stated that it has plans to develop and introduce a new turboprop to its airliner range. In a later interview, Silva revealed that work on the new design will be given greater priority next year and that Embraer is already in talks with several undisclosed business partners, who he implied would have a risk-sharing role in the venture. Silva believes that domestic routes may recover by 2023, so bolstering the case for turboprop aircraft within its product range.
It’s a gamble for both aircraft manufacturers with each taking a different path, we’ll only know once the ‘world is back to normal’ who’s made the wiser decision?