Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has officially confirmed losing an up to 100 SpaceJet M90 order on October 31, 2019. The Japanese company explains that the decision is related to the aircraft’s “unsuitability for the U.S. market”. 

Trans States Holdings, owner of Compass Airlines, GoJet Airlines, and Trans States Airlines, previously held a firm order for 50 SpaceJet M90 with an option for 50 more. However, after “close discussions”, the order was canceled as the aircraft does not meet the United States market requirements, Mitsubishi has admitted in a statement on October 31, 2019. 

Scope compliance one of the main selling points Mitsubishi is using to promote its regional jets in the U.S. ‒ a vastly important market for the planemaker.  But while SpaceJet M90 falls short of the requirement, the manufacturer already has (or, rather, eventually will have) a special, scope complaint offer ‒ the SpaceJet M100. 

It is the later aircraft the Japanese planemaker is now betting on. “TSH [Trans States Holdings] has been a long-time proponent of our aircraft program and we look forward to continuing discussions regarding a potential order for the SpaceJet M100 product,” Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation President Hisakazu Mizutani explained in the statement regarding the lost SpaceJet M90 order.

“When we established our contract with TSH, the outlook on the regional market was very different,” Mizutani is also cited as saying. “Scope clause has not relaxed as anticipated. We have since shifted our strategy to be responsive to the market realities in the U.S., in partnership with our airline customers. We are confident that the SpaceJet M100 presents us with a market-leading aircraft for North America”.

Until renaming in June 2019, SpaceJet M90 was known as MRJ90, while the SpaceJet M100, in the manufacturer’s words, “evolved from a concept study” of what was previously dubbed the MRJ70. The SpaceJet M100 was announced in June 2019 with a promise to be  “perfectly matched to the United States and global markets alike”. In particular, the aircraft is introduced as “the only clean-sheet regional aircraft in its category that also meets U.S. scope clause requirements”.

So far it has accumulated commitments for “up to” 115 jets in North America. In other words, M100 has already two customers, one of which, Mesa Airlines, placed an order for up to 100 SpaceJet M100 aircraft in September 2019. 

The only problem is that M100 entrance to service is nowhere to be seen as of yet. The M100 delivery is to be built off of the certification and delivery of the SpaceJet M90. The later aircraft is already in flight testing since March 2019, however, it is not clear if the  certification program is really going that well. Recent rumours indicate that first delivery to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) might have got postponed from mid-2020 to late 2020/early 2021 due to struggle with certification. If true, this makes the probable M100 service entry date even more unclear. 

The never-ending delays to the Mitsubishi SpaceJet seem to be continuing on. Reports indicate that the Japanese manufacturer is struggling to get certification for its regional jet.