What was once a program that set out to deliver its first results in 2013, might not see the end of the road until 2021, as further delays plague the SpaceJet. Reportedly, Mitsubishi Aircraft is looking to postpone the hand-off date to All Nippon Airways (ANA) for six months from its previous established timeline of mid-2020. The Japanese aircraft manufacturer could reveal its newest delivery date target next month, as it struggles to acquire certification for the aircraft.
Throughout 2019, Mitsubishi has been preparing hard to introduce its regional jet into service – from renaming the Regional Jet to SpaceJet, opening headquarters in one of the biggest potential markets for its aircraft in the United States to acquiring the Canadian Regional Jet program from Bombardier, the Japanese company had a very busy year.
It also revealed the SpaceJet M100 – a scope clause compliant aircraft, seating up to 76 passengers in a three-class cabin configuration, specifically tailored to the United States regional jet market. The announcement quickly bore fruit – on June 19 Mitsubishi announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an unidentified customer for 15 M100s, while on September 5, 2019, Mesa Airlines also signed an MoU for 100 SpaceJet M100 aircraft.
At the same time, Mitsubishi began flight testing the M90 in March 2019, something that the company has confirmed to AeroTime on June 13, 2019.
Something that has become synonymous with the Regional Jet has carried over to the SpaceJet – delays. When Mitsubishi initially announced the program in 2008, the company was “targeting the aircraft’s entry into service in 2013”.
Unfortunately, in 2009, the jet was delayed for a year, as the company revealed changes to the SpaceJet’s wing design.
In 2012, Mitsubishi pushed back the first flight to 2013 together with the first delivery date to its launch customer, ANA, to 2015.
On August 22, 2013, the Japanese company announced its third delay for the program, citing difficulties to meet Japanese safety regulations – handing over of the jet to its launch customer was set to Q2 2017.
Just before Christmas, on December 24, 2015, Mitsubishi delayed first deliveries from Q2 2017 to 2018.
The fifth delay was revealed on January 23, 2017 – issues with avionics and electrical wire systems pushed back the introduction of the SpaceJet with All Nippon Airways to mid-2020.
And now, reports indicate that certification problems are plaguing the program, potentially pushing the first delivery further down the road to late 2020, early 2021.
UPDATE 22-10-2019, 12:51 (UTC +3): A Mitsubishi spokesperson responded to the report in hand saying that “there has no been official announcement or comment on our schedule”, thus the spokesperson could not share any information regarding any potential delays to the SpaceJet program.