Mitsubishi Back-Burners SpaceJet Program


Following moves in May to scale back the SpaceJet program, Mitsubishi says that it will now pause its regional-jet plan indefinitely. Earlier, the manufacturer closed its Quebec design office and U.S. headquarters in Renton, Washington, leaving only the flight-test facility in Moses Lake, Washington, active outside of staffing based in Japan. The aircraft was to be built in Nagoya.

While Mitsubishi says of its aero structures business division, “In preparation for market recovery expected from 2024, [Mitsubishi] will increase production efficiency and drive forward new technology development to participate in future global aircraft programs,” it says of its commercial-aircraft arm that “expanding commercial aircraft business is MHI’s long-term goal.” However, “Given current development status and market conditions, we have no choice but to temporarily pause the majority of SpaceJet activities, except for TC documentation. We will work to review where we stand, make improvements, and assess a possible program restart.” It says that transfer “human resources and knowhow” from the SpaceJet program into its defense projects.

Mitsubishi was hoping the SpaceJet, formerly the MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet), would be the first airliner completely designed and built in Japan for decades. Launched in 2008, the SpaceJet program has consumed some $9 billion so far.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. A shame, I was really hoping to see this airplane succeed. It appeared well thought out and beautifully manufactured.

  2. It’s a shame considering regional air travel is what looks like will pick up first. I would assume Mitsubishi would want to be first in line. It’s a strange consortium. They pulled out their great photovoltaic panels a few years ago, stopped all development on their EV a few years back always at the cusp of making inroads. I wonder if it’s a decision making and business culture problem with them.

  3. If you have to cancel a program wouldn’t it there be less pie in your face if you cancel an MRJ as opposed to cancelling a SpaceJet, especially after making a big flamboyant deal out of the name change? OEM marketing departments are stupidly good at publicly over naming and over branding good solid products which would have been better served by calling them what they really are at least until they hatch, Mitsubishi Regional Jet in this case. Names like SpaceJet turn on youthful space cadets. Engineers and pilots on the project who even bothered to notice were likely embarrassed. As for the flying public, they couldn’t care less if they are riding in a SpaceJet or an MRJ as long as the airline doesn’t defer the coffee pot in winter, gives them a modicum of leg room, and otherwise at least makes an attempt to treat them with dignity. As long as our house is being cleaned, the industry would be better off if some of the OEM marketing departments get swept out with the rest of the trash.

  4. Mitsubishi is a typical Japanese company that considers a five year plan to be a short-term option. I have dealt with a couple of their divisions (it is a huge, highly diversified organization). They tend to move at their own pace, rather than trying to be first, or the largest. Temporarily shelving a project usually means they are just waiting for the right time to move forward. Closing down their North American operations probably just means that everything has been moved back to Japan for the time being.