Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90 program is getting dangerously close to the business principles of the infamous USGlobal Airways (née Baltia Airlines), as the service entry date of the regional jet, in the development for over a decade now, could be postponed yet again, the company’s CEO revealed.
Mitsubishi is revising SpiceJet schedule, meaning that SpaceJet service entry might be postponed again, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Chief Executive Seiji Izumisawa told Reuters, adding that he “cannot commit” to the mid-2020 hand-off date.
At the end of October 2019, reports indicated that the company was considering to push SpaceJet schedule by six months, in which case Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) would not receive its regional jets until 2021.
At the time, Mitsubishi spokesperson told AeroTime News that “there has been no official announcement or comment on our schedule,” refraining from sharing further information on potential SpaceJet program delays.
Mitsubishi announced its regional jet program in 2008, initially targeting service entry date in 2013. But already in 2009, it was delayed for the first time, pushing the schedule by a year. The date was later delayed once again by a year, to 2015. The third program setback occured in 2013. Citing difficulties to meet Japanese safety regulations, Mitsubishi was then targeting 2017 for the first hand-off, but that date was also pushed ‒ to 2018. In 2017, the introduction date of the jet was set to the currently still standing mid-2020.
Nevertheless, the 2019 appeared as a breakthrough year for Mitsubishi and its regional jet program. The company renamed its “Regional Jet” to “SpaceJet”, announced the SpaceJet M100 (a scope clause compliant aircraft tailored to the United States regional jet market), opened headquarters in the United States (in one of the biggest potential markets for its aircraft) and acquired the Canadian Regional Jet program from Bombardier. In March 2019, it has also finally began flight testing the SpaceJet M90.
If a decade of development sounds astounding, consider this: the SpaceJet program is not yet mid-way to reaching Baltia Airlines. Baltia, rebranded into USGlobal Airways in 2017, is the oldest “startup airline” in the world. Created in 1989 (four years before Qatar Airways) it was to offer transatlantic flights from New York (U.S.) to Saint Petersburg (Russia). After years of struggle of acquiring an aircraft and certification from authorities, it is now (in)famous for never operating a single flight in its three decades of existence.