Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is considering drastically reducing staff and budgets related to the development of the Mitsubishi SpaceJet, formerly known as Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Japan’s first nationally manufactured passenger jet, effectively freezing the operation amid falling demand. caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, according to sources close to the subject.
Its initial delivery to ANA (All Nippon Airways), initially scheduled for 2013, has been postponed until at least 2021.
The new aircraft, if successfully launched, would be the first Japanese commercial aircraft since the YS-11 turboprop aircraft built by Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing, a public-private company, half a century ago.
In a statement released on Friday, Mitsubishi Heavy said “several possibilities” are being considered, but no decision has been made, adding that the company plans to explain its position on October 30, when its medium-term strategy is revealed. .
The government pushed for the development of nationally manufactured aircraft in the early 2000s, although the YS-11 project did not pay off as a business. As a result, MHI launched the regional jet project in 2008 and the inaugural flight took place in November 2015. The Mitsubishi SpaceJet’s entry into service has been delayed six times so far, despite the fact that about 9.6 have already been invested. billion euros. developing dollars.
In May, President Seiji Izumisawa said the company would revise the development schedule “in its entirety” and unveiled a plan to cut spending on the project by more than half, to about $ 570 million in fiscal 2020., which ends next March.
Mitsubishi Heavy will likely decide what to do with the development of regional aircraft while assessing demand.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many airlines shifted their focus to smaller planes due to their fuel efficiency amid heightened awareness of climate change.
But airlines are now struggling because the pandemic has led many countries to impose travel restrictions, causing a drop in demand for commercial jets.