Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to End Its MSJ Jet Project

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A MSJ test aircraft flies in Aichi Prefecture in 2020.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd announced Tuesday it will discontinue the development of the Mitsubishi Space Jet (MSJ), a domestically produced jet airliner, and withdraw from the business.

About ¥1 trillion has already been spent on the project, and future costs are estimated at several hundred billion yen. The company has therefore concluded that the jet will not be profitable.

Due to its prolonged development, some of the jet’s equipment is now out of date, and it has become difficult for overseas parts manufacturers and others to maintain production for the MSJ.

Significant demand for the aircraft is also not expected, and obtaining the type certification from the Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Ministry needed to put the plane into service is expected to take several years.

Engineers working on the jet will be transferred to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ defense section, to utilize their knowledge for the next-generation fighter aircraft to be jointly developed by Japan, the U.K. and Italy. The company will also work on decarbonization, such as the electrification of aircraft.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will review its cooperation with overseas aircraft manufacturers, as well as how to utilize the facilities and equipment in Aichi Prefecture that have been used for the development of the aircraft.

The company decided to enter the jet production business in 2008, initially aiming to deliver its first aircraft in 2013. However, due to design changes and difficulties in procuring parts, the delivery date was postponed six times, and in October 2020, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced that it would “temporarily halt” the project.

The development of a domestically produced passenger plane was the first in half a century — following the YS-11 propeller-driven aircraft, which was a joint effort of the public and private sectors.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries had received orders for approximately 300 planes from domestic and foreign airlines, including ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co.

The government had provided approximately ¥50 billion in research funding.