One of the prototypes of the SpaceJet M90 regional jet, registration JA23MJ, was dismantled in the US, according to a report by the website Aviation Wire, in Japan.
The test aircraft was known as “Unit 3” and had performed its maiden flight in November 2016. The same outlet revealed that the SpaceJet MSN 10003 lost its Japanese registration on March 14.
In addition, Mitsubishi, the aircraft’s manufacturer, ceased operations at the Moses Lake Flight Test Center (MFC) at the end of March. The facility was used to carry out certification flights for the SpaceJet program and had three other prototypes whose fate is uncertain.
The M90 jet, registration JA23MJ, is known for being painted in the colors of All Nippon Airways, its first customer. Later, when Mitsubishi renamed the program SpaceJet, the aircraft received a new livery, with which it ended its flights in 2020.
Mitsubishi has completed five aircraft since the project’s inception, in addition to having other airframes partially assembled in Japan.
The MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet) program was announced in 2007 with the aim of repositioning Japan in the commercial aviation segment.
With a very modern design, the MRJ90 and MRJ70 regional jets should compete with the hugely successful Embraer E-Jets.
However, the development of the aircraft took longer than expected. Instead of entering service in 2013, the Japanese regional jet flew for the first time only in November 2015.
In 2019, Mitsubishi renamed the program SpaceJet and swapped the MRJ70 for the SpaceJet M100 model, which was intended to meet the scope clauses of US regional airlines.
The Covid-19 pandemic and consequently the high cost of the program motivated Mitsubishi to suspend work at the end of 2020.