Well OK, maybe it’s slightly longer than an actual day, but it doesn’t seem too long ago that LARA’s February/March issue was reporting on the potential of Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet in the competitive regional jet market. Now it appears that Washington State, where the jet was undergoing flight testing at the Moses Lake Flight Center in Renton, is set to lose its investment from the Japanese company, with the announcement by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on 22 May that it is set to close the centre and headquarters at Renton. Although this press release was quickly followed by the statement that a small team will be kept on site to maintain some of the aircraft.
The move is viewed as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) long-term goal of consolidating its commercial aircraft operations, which will also see a reduction in the development budget for the SpaceJet due to the COVID-19 impact which has decimated the commercial airline industry.
By shutting down operations in Washington State, MHI will now consolidate all SpaceJet development at Nagoya in Japan. The four test aircraft at Moses will be put into storage and will receive maintenance as and when required. The shutting down of the facility will in some way compensate for the US$275 million loss MHI announced in March but does not help with the $2.4 billion MHI spent on the SpaceJet last year.
The change in strategy by MHI may also see the suspension of the M100’s development, with a focus across the company now on reducing costs.
MHI said: “The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge for society as a whole, and there are parts of MHI Group’s business that are already facing significant impact, especially in industries like commercial aviation… MHI Group is working on measures to help us overcome this crisis.”
As to the future of the SpaceJet, let’s hope that by the end of the day, this great looking jet, does indeed have its time to shine in the land of the rising sun.