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[EN] Mitsubishi suspende o programa SpaceJet

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How Mitsubishi Heavy's hubris brought SpaceJet down to earth

Delay-plagued $10bn project offers cautionary tale about national pride

The SpaceJet project was intended to propel Japan to the top of the aerospace value chain. (Photo from Mitsubishi Aircraft's Twitter account)
AZUSA KAWAKAMI and ANNU NISHIOKA, Nikkei staff writers

TOKYO -- After sinking 12 years and more than 1 trillion yen ($9.55 billion) into the SpaceJet, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has decided to suspend its project to build Japan's first homegrown passenger plane in decades.

The program launched to fanfare as the Mitsubishi Regional Jet back in 2008 as part of a national campaign to take Japan's aerospace industry to the next level, supported by the public and private sectors alike. The government provided about 50 billion yen in aid.

But Mitsubishi Heavy's insistence on building a domestic jet, despite a lack of experience in the area, tied the company's hands and ultimately led to the effort's downfall -- a cautionary tale for other manufacturers here seeking to enter new fields.

"It is true that we are considering many possibilities," Mitsubishi Heavy said Friday of the program.

Mitsubishi Heavy had once developed the Zero fighter used by Japan in World War II and had considered itself the leader of the nation's aerospace industry. Many in the company had been eager to get back into the game.

"There's some risk, but we'll have a hard time getting into the civilian business [of passenger aircraft] if we miss this opportunity," then-President Kazuo Tsukuda had said.

https%3A%2F%2Fs3-ap-northeast-1.amazonawThen-Mitsubishi Heavy President Kazuo Tsukuda, left, at a 2007 news conference in Tokyo on the Mitsubishi Regional Jet project. The aircraft was later renamed the SpaceJet.   © Reuters

But Japan's last passenger plane, the YS-11 turboprop, had been discontinued back in 1973, and much know-how had been lost.

Problems emerged almost immediately. While Mitsubishi Heavy was already involved in aerospace, it mostly supplied jet components to such customers as Boeing. Building an aircraft from scratch proved completely different undertaking, and the company struggled to source and manage the roughly 1 million parts involved.

Around the same time, Brazil's Embraer was also developing a new generation of passenger jets. Mitsubishi Heavy, with its army of skilled and highly educated engineers, had been confident about beating its rival to market. But Embraer ultimately won the race, delivering the first of its new jets in 2018.

Embraer was founded in 1969 and privatized in the 1990s. It has succeeded in speeding up its development timeline through a flexible approach to incorporating foreign talent.

https%3A%2F%2Fs3-ap-northeast-1.amazonawVisitors sit inside a model of Mitsubishi Heavy's aircraft at a 2016 trade show in Tokyo. Now called the SpaceJet, the plane still lacks type certification, a prerequisite for commercial flight.   © Reuters

Mired in challenges, Mitsubishi Heavy eventually began to follow suit. It recruited numerous engineers from a Canadian rival and elsewhere in 2018. But they have struggled to fit in, partly owing to pride on the part of the existing Japanese team.

Seven years after the original planned delivery date, the SpaceJet still has yet to receive type certification -- a prerequisite for commercial flight. Shipments have been postponed for a sixth time, and the development costs of more than 1 trillion yen have greatly overrun the initially planned 150 billion yen.

Many smaller suppliers, a portion of which entered the aviation industry specifically for the SpaceJet project, have struggled to keep up their operations through the numerous delays. Meanwhile, demand for air travel has plunged in the pandemic.

Mitsubishi Heavy said Friday that it will "continue to closely review the development timeline, taking into account the impact of the coronavirus." The company plans to keep trying for a type certification. But it will cut the program's budget and essentially halve the SpaceJet team to about 500 as early as this fiscal year. The team had already been downsized by half once before.

The company also faces headwinds in core operations. Fossil-fuel-fired power plants, which account for around 60% of group operating profit, are under growing pressure over their environmental impact. Shipbuilding operations face challenges as well. Mitsubishi Heavy has little resources to spend on a project that may not succeed financially.

Investors appeared to support the company's decision on the SpaceJet. At one point Friday, Mitsubishi Heavy shares were up 7% at 2,379 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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Provavelmente ja se tornou obsoleto ao levar mais de 10 anos para entrar em serviço e duvido que recuperaria o valor investido. 

Agora, bom ver como a reportagem deixa claro que a Embraer conseguiu fazer o que a Mitsubishi tentou fazer em menos tempo e entregou o produto ao mercado. 

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  • 1 month later...

Meus prezados

Fim do Spacejet?

Após mais de uma década de desenvolvimento, somando diversos atrasos no cronograma, o projeto do Spacejet, o primeiro avião a jato japonês, poderá ser suspenso em definitivo. De acordo com a imprensa japonesa, a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries estaria revendo seus planos orçamentários e poderá desistir do desenvolvimento do avião comercial regional, que tinha como um dos rivais o Embraer 175-E2. Até o momento, o programa Spacejet já consumiu mais de 9 bilhões de dólares ( cerca de 50,8 bilhões de reais) e não conseguiu vencer a fase de ensaios em voo. O Spacejet, originalmente batizado de Mitsubishi Regional Jet, começou a ser desenvolvido em meados de 2007.

Fonte: AeroMagazine nº 318


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O programa Spacejet afundou a MHI, os japas ficaram tão presos em produzir um avião excelente, mas esqueceu que tempo na aviação é tudo.

Mas eles vão recuperar, Tokyo vai dar uma mãozinha escolhendo a MHI como a líder do consórcio para desenvolver 90 caças japoneses. Valor da brincadeira: U$$ 48 bilhões.


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Aerolease cancels SpaceJet orders amid programme freeze

By Alfred Chua8 January 2021


US-based lessor Aerolease Aviation has cancelled its commitments for Mitsubishi Aircraft’s SpaceJet programme, the airframer has disclosed. 

The “mutual agreement” to end the contract between both parties took place on 31 December 2020, and comes after parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) imposed a freeze on the regional aircraft programme, which had been long plagued by developmental delays. 


Source: Mitsubishi Aircaft

The SpaceJet programme has long been plagued by developmental delays.

Aerolease signed for 10 examples of the aircraft (then known as the Mitsubishi Regional Jet) in 2016, with options for 10 more aircraft.  

Both parties add that they will “revisit a re-contract again when development resumes”. 

Says Jep Thornton, managing partner of Aerolease Aviation: “It is clear to us that the market is in need of such an aircraft and that creates a unique opportunity. Although our agreement with Mitsubishi Aircraft has ended at the end of 2020, we wish the team success in eventually restarting the program as soon as practicable and we remain interested in resuming our relationship with them when that happens.”

The cancellation — the first in more than a year — is the latest blow to afflict the beleaguered SpaceJet programme. 

In December, it was reported that Mitsubushi Aircraft had slashed 95% of its staff, leaving behind a skeletal workforce of just 150 employees. 

In late October, MHI announced that it would further cut the budget of — and put a “temporary pause” on — the SpaceJet programme, as it mulls a “possible programme restart”. 

In its medium-term business plan, MHI added that it will, however, still carry on with type certification documentation efforts. 

In October 2019, US regional operator Trans States Holdings cancelled its orders — for 50 examples and another 50 options — for the type.

With Aerolease’s cancellation, the total number of firm orders for the SpaceJet now stands at 153, the majority of them to Japanese carriers. Mitsubishi Aircraft also has 114 options for the type, according to Cirium fleets data. 

Source: www.flightglobal.com

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