Mitsubishi pulls back from SpaceJet program, retreats from U.S.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has confirmed that it is closing its SpaceJet program in the U.S.

Having launched the Mitsubishi SpaceJet family of aircraft earlier this year, and opening a U.S. headquarters in Renton, Wash., the company seeks to prepare for the next phase of its global growth. Mitsubishi Image
Mitsubishi did not clarify how many jobs will be affected by these recent production cuts. Mitsubishi Image
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The Japanese OEM is in major cost-cutting mode as it pulls back to regroup in Nagoya.

Spokesman Jeff Dronen told The Seattle Times via email that the closures are being prompted “due to the budget directives.” Last week, the company announced an overall loss of US$275 million for the fiscal year ending in March. The SpaceJet’s development has cost MHI US$1.3 billion in the last fiscal year.

SpaceJet flight testing in Moses Lake, Wash., will cease and the U.S. headquarters in Renton, Wash., will close. The four test aircraft in Moses Lake will be put into storage. Once MHI has achieved its targeted budget cuts, the program’s future will be on the table. Dronen said it’s a possibility that flight testing could continue in Japan.

MHI did not say how many jobs will be affected by the cuts.

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Meanwhile, the company is finalizing its acquisition of the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) program on June 1, 2020. The Japanese OEM bought the program from Bombardier and in early May said it planned to operate under a newly created group of companies called MHI RJ Aviation Group. MHI acquired the maintenance, support, refurbishment, marketing and sales activities for the CRJ aircraft, along with the type certificates. This includes the support network located in Montreal, Toronto, Bridgeport, W.Va., and Tucson, Ariz.

It’s not clear how MHI’s drastic budget cuts will affect the CRJ operation or its recently-opened engineering centre in Montreal, which employed 46 workers in February.

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