Mitsubishi's SpaceJet Photo: Wikipedia
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Mitsubishi Heavy said to be freezing development of regional jet

29 Comments
By Tim Kelly and Maki Shiraki

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will freeze development of its SpaceJet regional jet as the COVID-19 pandemic squeezes finances and erodes prospects for Japan's first passenger aircraft in half a century, two sources said.

The sources with knowledge of the decision told Reuters that the plan would be announced along with a medium-term business plan on Oct 30. They declined to be identified because the plan is not yet public.

Mitsubishi Heavy said in a statement it was considering various options for the SpaceJet but that it had not decided to freeze development. It will announce plans for the SpaceJet along with its group business plan on Oct 30, the company said.

Coronavirus travel curbs around the world have forced airlines to shrink operations to survive. The industry crisis means carriers have little money to buy planes that they may have to keep on the ground until the pandemic ends and demand revives.

The regional jet's launch customer, ANA Holdings is borrowing heavily and cutting costs in a bid to weather the crisis. While it has seen some rebound in domestic demand helped by government travel subsidies, international travel is still a fraction of what it was before the outbreak.

Japan's biggest carrier will likely post a 500 billion yen ($4.77 billion) net loss in the year ending March 31, a source told Reuters on Wednesday.

MHI's pullback from the SpaceJet program comes after Japan's biggest aerospace company in March halved its annual budget for its development and suspended plans for a possible variant seen as key to winning orders from U.S. airlines.

A key supplier to commercial aircraft makers Boeing Co, and Airbus SE , MHI, with Japanese government encouragement, started the SpaceJet program in a bid to establish itself as a global commercial plane maker. The development, however, was plagued by technical problems that forced it to delay its first delivery to ANA six times from 2013 to the end of March 2022.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
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Major job losses coming, even in Japan. Buckle up folks, things are about to get bumpy...

7 ( +11 / -4 )

The project would end up almost the same fate without the pandemic which may be a "convenient" excuse for the MHI to withdraw completely. But it has inspired Honda to develop own mini jets whose sale seems well.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

What joke this project has been.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

This whole project has been dogged, from the beginning by astounding hubris regarding Japan's so-called technical prowess, both from the J-gov't and from Mitsubishi Heavy, Once they realized they were in beyond their heads, they scrambled to bring in foreign expertise, in the form of rapid hiring and Bombardier, and now they are luckily handed a "divine wind" of sorts in the form of a face-saving excuse to get out without admitting their lack of ability.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Real disappointing news. Space jet looked like an awesome jet, comfortable, fast and fuel efficient. Sad that Covid has finished off the project and none of us will ever fly in one.

Send China the bill, Mitsubishi.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

The article title is a bit misleading from the actual contents. For example, “freezing” is not the same as a further slowdown. As the statement says:

”Mitsubishi Heavy said in a statement it was considering various options for the SpaceJet but that it had not decided to freeze development. It will announce plans for the SpaceJet along with its group business plan on Oct 30, the company said.”

The MRJ program may have been plagued, but it’s more than building a new aircraft. It’s also constructing a new aerospace infrastructure for Japan, which is even more ambitious. So, it’s difficult at this point to describe the program as frozen or cancelled until Mitsubishi says so.

And regarding foreigners and experts, Mitsubishi can’t be worse than the stars at Boeing that actually managed to kill people in a flawed 737-Max introduced into the market. Now those are “experts” that should have known better.

Wait and see.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

We should have built a regional plane decades ago! That's how far behind we are.

We have the expertise, the R&D, but decided not to compete in this area, to allow the U.S. And Europe to dominate this market without the Japanese even trying.

Do you know how Japan keeps losing deals? Keeps losing Market?

Have them not be there in the first place, the tough competition from Japan dissappears if they never compete, never at the table, unwilling to even try.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

We have the expertise, the R&D,

Actually, if Japan has that, they would have put out a plane back in 2013. Since they don't, it's 2020 and there's still no plane, and the program's being scrapped.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Questionable whether there would be a sufficient market for it post Wuhan virus, the highly profitable business travellers are likely to be far fewer and a declining market as firms use video conferencing more and more in the future, making considerable cost savings and virtue signalling their environmental credentials.

The cheap tourist market needs volume which this may not be best suited for and there is a question hanging over how much the market will recover not to mention an over supply of cheap second hand aircraft as airlines down size to survive (or don’t need their fleets as they haven’t).

Building an airspace infrastructure must be a commercial decision driven by cold hard economic facts not a vanity project driven by political or management ego.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Damned autocorrect ”aerospace infrastructure”.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

MHI, with Japanese government encouragement, started the SpaceJet program in a bid to establish itself as a global commercial plane maker.

Encouragement from the government in what form, verbal or monetary ?, and the amount that has been put into the project a important facts that cannot be left out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

14 years of delay, the plane is an embarrassment to Japan. It is already outdated and obsolete. Just cancel it, get done with it, move on. Nobody is going to order even if it ever gets into the market.

put one of the test planes in a museum and paint another pink and hand it to me so i can give to my wife next month for her birthday. Make at least one person happy.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Make at least one person happy.

the museum curator?

i was somewhat involved in this project in its earlier stages way back around 2010 for the PR/marketing side...our team was on board for a few months, but Each.And.Every.Single.Little.Decision required so many hankos and sucking air through teeth that our team eventually moved on to more lucrative clients. and this was just the publicity---i couldn't even start to think of all the kachos and cigarette-filled design rooms in the actual engineering department there!! no wonder it never took off in a decade, so to speak.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Another day, another Japanese industry bites dust.

And the scariest thing is, this is the same company that's supposed to build a $40 billion F-3 fighter jet from scratch. Anyone having second thoughts about giving Mitsubishi $40 billion and hoping for the best?

@noriahojanen

But it has inspired Honda to develop own mini jets whose sale seems well.

There is a massive difference between MRJ and HondaJet.

MRJ is a product of All-Japan philosophy, where almost all engineering and management staff were Japanese who read the hand-translated FAA rule-book to design the jet without external consulting.

HondaJet is a product of All-America philosophy, where the company is physically located in the US and its entire staff with the sole exception of its president is Americans.

Take a look at HondaJet company photo here.

https://mms.businesswire.com/media/20131017006559/en/387915/5/Honda_Aircraft_ribbon-cutting10-17-13%231.jpg

4 ( +5 / -1 )

MRJ is a product of All-Japan philosophy, where almost all engineering and management staff were Japanese who read the hand-translated FAA rule-book to design the jet without external consulting.

HondaJet is a product of All-America philosophy, where the company is physically located in the US and its entire staff with the sole exception of its president is Americans.

It's not as if Japan doesn't have the ability. They most certainly do. Kawasaki has successfully produced the C-1 cargo plane in the past, produce the C-2 now with prospects for foreign sales and an ELINT version. Kawasaki also produces the P-1 ASW patrol aircraft for the JMSDF. The P-1 uses an entirely Japanese high bypass turbofan engine too, made by IHI. Mitsubishi had a good run with the MU-2.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Very sad. This looks like a great aircraft.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Desert Tortoise

It's not as if Japan doesn't have the ability.

Japan doesn't.

Kawasaki has successfully produced the C-1 cargo plane in the past

Kawasaki isn't Mitsubishi.

produce the C-2 now with prospects for foreign sales

There is no foreign sales prospect for the C-2. UAE turned it down because of its deficiency in unpaved runway landing performance, or the lack of it.

This is the problem with Japanese weapons; they are designed exclusively for SDF with zero consideration given to foreign customers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is no foreign sales prospect for the C-2. UAE turned it down because of its deficiency in unpaved runway landing performance, or the lack of it.

Care to document this. Aviation sources I see all state that the Japanese successfully demonstrated rough field capability for the aircraft and the UAE has not made a decision whether or not to buy them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They made the zero, that attack Pearl Harbor

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

China has much more financial and capital power than Japan, yet they struggle to produce commercial jets on par with Boeing, Airbus or even Russians.

It is not a surprise for me because Japan never stands a chance. For many decades, Germany, who still possesses superior R&D and technologies than Japan, has no choice of joining Airbus to create a continental commercial aircraft program to compete against the USA.

Aside this suspension, I expect many more overpriced programs to be suspended and halted eternally by the Japanese government. The Covid-19 is permanently going to contract 18-20% of Japanese GDP, according to Bloomberg analysts. Japan won't be able to afford many of expensive programs, like what China and South Korea are doing to improve their international standing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Septim Dynasty

For many decades, Germany, who still possesses superior R&D and technologies than Japan, has no choice of joining Airbus to create a continental commercial aircraft program

Huh, Germany hosts A320's main production line.

https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/how-is-an-aircraft-built/final-assembly-and-tests.html

Hamburg, Germany (one FAL): all four production lines for the A320 Family

.

 I expect many more overpriced programs to be suspended and halted eternally by the Japanese government.

The fear is that Suga will go ahead and give $40 billion to Mitsubishi for the F-3, and then Mitsubishi then turns around and ask for $40 billion more a decade later. None of Mitsubishi's project were ever completed on time and on budget, and doubling and even tripling of cost is routine, including the F-2, MRJ, two AIDA cruise ships(signed the contract for $1 billion, ended up costing $3.3 billion. Mitsubishi ate the $2.3 billion loss)

https://www.tradewindsnews.com/weekly/mitsubishi-explains-2-3bn-loss-from-cruiseships/1-1-1174310

Mitsubishi explains $2.3bn loss from cruiseships

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has revealed the results of an internal investigation into the reasons behind losses of $2.3bn it racked up building two 125,000-gt cruiseships for AIDA Cruises.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Septim Dynasty

For many decades, Germany, who still possesses superior R&D and technologies than Japan, has no choice of joining Airbus to create a continental commercial aircraft program

Huh, Germany hosts A320's main production line.

https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/how-is-an-aircraft-built/final-assembly-and-tests.html

Hamburg, Germany (one FAL): all four production lines for the A320 Family

.

 I expect many more overpriced programs to be suspended and halted eternally by the Japanese government.

The fear is that Suga will go ahead and give $40 billion to Mitsubishi for the F-3, and then Mitsubishi then turns around and ask for $40 billion more a decade later. None of Mitsubishi's project were ever completed on time and on budget, and doubling and even tripling of cost is routine, including the F-2, MRJ, two AIDA cruise ships(signed the contract for $1 billion, ended up costing $3.3 billion. Mitsubishi ate the $2.3 billion loss)

https://www.tradewindsnews.com/weekly/mitsubishi-explains-2-3bn-loss-from-cruiseships/1-1-1174310

Mitsubishi explains $2.3bn loss from cruiseships

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has revealed the results of an internal investigation into the reasons behind losses of $2.3bn it racked up building two 125,000-gt cruiseships for AIDA Cruises.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Septim Dynasty

For many decades, Germany, who still possesses superior R&D and technologies than Japan, has no choice of joining Airbus to create a continental commercial aircraft program

Huh, Germany hosts A320's main production line.

https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/how-is-an-aircraft-built/final-assembly-and-tests.html

Hamburg, Germany (one FAL): all four production lines for the A320 Family

.

 I expect many more overpriced programs to be suspended and halted eternally by the Japanese government.

The fear is that Suga will go ahead and give $40 billion to Mitsubishi for the F-3, and then Mitsubishi then turns around and ask for $40 billion more a decade later. None of Mitsubishi's project were ever completed on time and on budget, and doubling and even tripling of cost is routine, including the F-2, MRJ, two AIDA cruise ships(signed the contract for $1 billion, ended up costing $3.3 billion to actually build. Mitsubishi ate the $2.3 billion loss as the buyer wasn't Japanese government)

https://www.tradewindsnews.com/weekly/mitsubishi-explains-2-3bn-loss-from-cruiseships/1-1-1174310

Mitsubishi explains $2.3bn loss from cruiseships

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has revealed the results of an internal investigation into the reasons behind losses of $2.3bn it racked up building two 125,000-gt cruiseships for AIDA Cruises.

https://jp.reuters.com/article/kato-idJPKBN2780H2

次期戦闘機の開発、着実に進めたい=三菱重のSJ開発凍結報道で官房長官

[東京 23日 ロイター] - 加藤勝信官房長官は23日の閣議後会見で、三菱重工業7011.Tが国産ジェット旅客機「スペースジェット(SJ)」の開発を凍結する方向で調整に入ったと伝えられたことに関連して、同社が開発主体企業として応募している次期戦闘機開発計画について「着実に進めたい」との考えを示した。

Japan's new Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobu still has faith in Mitsubishi's ability to deliver the F-3 fighter even after the MRJ disaster.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates wants to purchase Japan's C-2 transport plane made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries but this deal may also be doomed. The country said it "cannot purchase [the C-2] if nothing is done" to include the capability for take off and landing on unpaved runways.

This is out of date information. Kawasaki demonstrated rough field landings and take offs in the C-2 at Gifu airfield. A demonstration for UAE officials is scheduled for this month.

https://www.aerotime.aero/clement.charpentreau/25728-japan-hopes-uae-will-become-first-kawasaki-c-2-export-customer

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The Covid-19 is permanently going to contract 18-20% of Japanese GDP, according to Bloomberg analysts"

It still baffling there are some who are bold enough to lie so blatantly in this day and age

Information is at the click of everyone's mouse, Google is free!

The following is what the analyst said:

"Japan’s economy won’t return to its pre-pandemic size without structural reforms needed to boost productivity and counter the impact of a shrinking population, according to Bloomberg Economics."

Jeeezus.

And since you did not bother post this link, I'm not going to do it either.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"The Deceptively Simple Reason Australia Picked the Shortfin Barracuda"

"https://thediplomat.com/2016/05/the-deceptively-simple-reason-australia-picked-the-shortfin-barracuda/"

It couldn't be any clearer.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Regional carriers are taking a beating. Jet airliners are going to be mothballed in droves. It won't matter who can build what when it's simply cheaper to retrofit...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Information is at the click of everyone's mouse, Google is free!

The following is what the analyst said:

"Japan’s economy won’t return to its pre-pandemic size without structural reforms needed to boost productivity and counter the impact of a shrinking population, according to Bloomberg Economics."

Jeeezus.

And since you did not bother post this link, I'm not going to do it either.

Apparently, British people, while I highly doubt you are one (maybe a Japanese netto oyo), has a serious reading skill and comprehension issue. You just answered my damn statement. LOL! Bloomberg just said that Japan won't get back to its pre-Covid GDP level without structural reforms.

Bloomberg said: The growth trend will then switch to a steady decline with the economy ending up 16% smaller than it was in 2019 by 2050.

This is the generous estimate, while the figure is much higher.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-07/japan-s-economy-won-t-regain-pre-covid-size-bloomberg-economics#:~:text=Japan's%20economy%20won't%20return%20to%20its%20pre%2Dpandemic%20size,population%2C%20according%20to%20Bloomberg%20Economics.&text=The%20growth%20trend%20will%20then,was%20in%202019%20by%202050.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The bone yard in Mojave is filling up fast with retired airliners. Lots of former Virgin and Quantas 747s waiting to be dismantled.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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