As the development of the Spacejet, Japan’s first domestic passenger aircraft, is on indefinite hold, Mitsubishi Aircraft plans to reduce the number of employees to a minimum of about 150 employees, a reduction of 95% of its workforce, according to NHK. Cuts are expected to start in April 2021.
From then, test flights at Moses Lake Flight Test Center in Washington, United States, will stop, and work will be reduced to the maintenance of four test aircraft. The facility is the last remaining of the three sites Mitsubishi Aircraft had in North America.
The reduction follows the freezing of the SpaceJet regional jet program by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020. Throughout its bumpy development, the deliveries of the SpaceJet were delayed six times, as the aircraft was initially expected to be operational by 2013. The maiden flight was carried out in November 2015.
In June 2019, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries purchased Bombardier CRJ program for $550 million, securing crucial facilities for the development of its own aircraft and gaining an industrial foothold in North America.