Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet regional aircraft, in development for more than a dozen years, will be delayed again as costs mount with a fiscal-year loss projected at $2.5 billion.
Previously scheduled to deliver the SpaceJet M90 in its fiscal year 2020, Mitsubishi said Thursday in a financial briefing in Japan that it now expects deliveries to begin in fiscal 2021, which runs from April 2021 to March 2022, or later.
The Japanese manufacturer over the past three years has made extensive changes to the design of what was previously called the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and rebranded last year as SpaceJet.
The first, larger model of the jet family is a 90-seat airplane, the SpaceJet M90. Four M90 aircraft are currently undergoing flight test in Moses Lake and a fifth is being ground-tested in Japan. The first M90 for launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) was previously scheduled to be delivered this year, already seven years late. Now it’s looking like at least an eight-year delay, though Mitsubishi has not set a precise new schedule.
“It has become clear that we will not achieve certification in FY2020,” said Mitsubishi spokesman Jeff Dronen.
In a statement, Mitsubishi said the sixth M90 flight test jet, which is the first to incorporate all the design changes, is in final preparations for first flight, after which it will ferry to the United States to join the M90 flight test fleet already at Moses Lake.
“We will have a better understanding of our schedule once this happens,” the statement said.
Coming later will be the second SpaceJet model, the M100, which was launched at the Paris Air Show in 2019 as a reconfigured concept for the smaller variant in the family—re-designed to fit the regulations governing regional jets in the United States.
American carriers work under “scope clause” restrictions with their pilot unions that limit the size of regional jets, which are flown by lower-paid pilots. The SpaceJet M100 exactly meets the scope-clause weight restriction of 86,000 pounds and will carry the full U.S. limit of 76 passengers in three classes.
The program, which was launched in 2008 with a target of entering service in 2013, is intended to compete against the Embraer E-Jets, which by next year may be owned by Boeing. Mitsubishi must first get the initial SpaceJet M90 model into service.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the nature of the latest delay to Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet program. The first variant, the larger M90, has been pushed out about a year. The smaller M100 model will follow later.