GRAND COUNTY, WASHINGTON — On March 8, a team of demolition experts dismantled a prototype of SpaceJet regional aircraft belonging to Mitsubishi Aircraft at the Moses Lake facility.

The M90 variant of the aircraft was torn apart by powerful machinery, marking the end of Japan's once-promising regional jet program.

The fuselage of the aircraft has been visibly cleaved in two parts, just behind the wings. The aft portion and empennage of the plane can be seen resting on the ground. The aircraft in question was registered as JA21MJ and was built back in 2015. This prototype had been utilized by Mitsubishi Aircraft for testing at Moses Lake and aimed at gaining certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration before the program met its eventual end.

Back in 2016, Mitsubishi Aircraft relocated its initial M90 aircraft to the Moses Lake facility with the intention of establishing a fleet of four aircraft at the location. However, the company was unable to successfully attain certification for the aircraft. In 2020, as the pandemic and financial pressures mounted, parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) decided to halt the development of the SpaceJet program. It remains unclear what the fate of the other test aircraft will be.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) officially announced the program termination last month, citing a variety of challenges, including technological hurdles, the pressure for decarbonization, and difficulties collaborating with international partners.

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Despite discontinuing the project, MHI expressed its desire for an in-house built commercial aircraft in the future.

Mitsubishi Aircraft launched the Mitsubishi Regional Jet program in 2007, with plans to create a range of regional jets featuring between 70 and 90 seats. After encountering repeated setbacks, the company opted to rebrand the initiative as SpaceJet in 2019, completely redesigning the aircraft lineup. As part of this overhaul, the original 70-seat variant was scrapped in favor of a new 76-seat model called the SpaceJet M100, which was introduced alongside the 88-seat M90.

The decision to include the M100 was prompted by a desire to offer a jet that adhered to the aircraft-weight limits specified in US airline pilot contracts. Mitsubishi Aircraft had secured over 200 orders for SpaceJets, but ongoing delays attributed to certification issues ultimately led to its downfall.