Japanese company Mitsubishi has confirmed first delivery of its troubled MRJ regional jet, refinanced the project and played down concerns over a lawsuit filed by Canadian firm Bombardier.
Speaking at a financial results meeting last week, Masanori Koguchi, senior executive vice president and CFO of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, said, “The probability of first delivery of MRJ in mid-2020 is becoming higher. We will be able to progress the technical development.
“Therefore, we have increased the capital and will go through debt forgiveness. The financial issues around MRJ have been resolved.”
The business unit developing MRJ, Mitsubishi Aircraft, was ¥110bn (US$972m) in March 2018. Parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is issuing shares worth ¥170bn (US$1.5bn) in a debt-to-equity swap and forgiving ¥50bn (US$440m) of debt to resolve the issue.
According to reports, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries chief executive Shunichi Miyanaga also played down concerns in Japan that the lawsuit filed by Canadian transport company Bombardier last month could push the MRJ’s delivery data further back.
Development of the 70-90-seat MRJ program started in 2004 but has been hampered by problems. The aircraft was originally planned to enter service in 2010.
Many industry commentators cite Japanese engineers’ lack of experience at certifying aircraft as a big contributor to the problems. Japan has not made a commercial passenger plane since the 1960s and Mitsubishi has recruited engineers from outside Japan for the development program.
In a further twist to the MRJ’s protracted development story, last month Bombardier filed a lawsuit in the USA alleging the Japanese company had stolen trade secrets relating to aircraft certification, including its C Series aircraft. A date for a trial has yet to be set.