Ended on February 7, Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet program of regional jets officially lost its launch customer, All Nippon Airways (ANA) on Monday, April 24.
The Japanese carrier announced the cancellation of the agreement for 15 MRJ90 (later renamed SpaceJet M90), according to Aviation Wire.
The move is similar to that taken by Japan Airlines on Feb. 28, which canceled a firm order for 32 jets and will receive 8 billion yen ($60 million) compensation.
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ANA became the first airline to select the regional jet in March 2008, configured with 88 seats and which would take the place of the Dash 8 turboprops.
The forecast was that the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) would enter into operation in 2013, but delays in the development of the aircraft led to several revisions in the schedule.
Replacement for the Dash 8 turboprop
The first test aircraft made its maiden flight only in November 2015. At the time, Mitsubishi had already changed its entry into service forecast for 2018.
In 2017, a prototype with ANA colors was completed, but at that time the operational debut was scheduled for 2020. With the delays, the airline ended up postponing the retirement of its Boeing 737-500 and expanded the fleet of Dash 8 and 737-800 .
In an attempt to speed up certification, four prototypes were transferred to Moses Lake, in the USA. In June 2019, however, Mitsubishi announced changes to the program, then renamed SpaceJet.
While the MRJ90 model came to be called SpaceJet M90, the planemaker canceled the MRJ70 version, replaced by the M100, with 76 seats and the goal of meeting the scope clause of US airlines.
The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has interrupted the certification process. At that point, the Mitsubishi group was already accumulating huge debts with SpaceJet, forcing the company to end the program in 2023.
Options on the E2 and A220
All Nippon Airways will now have to look for alternatives outside Japan if it still intends to have a jet aircraft with a capacity of between 90 and 150 seats.
Natural candidates are the Airbus A220 and the Embraer E2, direct rival of Mitsubishi’s aircraft family.