By Jamie Freed
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp said on Monday it will focus on certifying its SpaceJet M90 this fiscal year, and announced executive changes as it seeks to weather challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
The delivery target for the regional jet has been pushed back six times as Mitsubishi Aircraft and its chief shareholder, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd <7011.T>, have contended with a series of design missteps.
The certification signifies the airworthiness of the approved design or “type” of aircraft to be manufactured.
The company said in a statement that Yasuhiko Kawaguchi would be the Executive Chief Engineer for aircraft design and type certification.
It will eliminate the chief development officer position for the time being and Alex Bellamy, who held that role and spearheaded the manufacturer’s product development and future business development, will step down, a spokesman said.
Mitsubishi Aircraft said in the fiscal year to March 2021, it will largely focus on improving the design and validating data earned from over 3,900 hours of flight tests.
The focus on obtaining type certification is part of a shift away from global development and to resize the organisation to help it weather the health crisis, Mitsubishi Aircraft said.
The manufacturer last month said it would close overseas operations that employ hundreds of people and may cut staff at home after its parent company slashed the development budget for Japan’s first commercial aircraft in a century.
Kyodo News on Friday reported more than half of Mitsubishi Aircraft’s workforce of 2,000 would be cut, citing a source. The company’s spokesman said he could not give a final number on headcount but “significant change” was expected.
Mitsubishi Aircraft also suspended development studies on a shorter variant, the M100, seen as key to winning orders in the lucrative U.S. market where it competes against Brazil’s Embraer SA <EMBR3.SA>.
(Additional reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Himani Sarkar)