Mitsubishi Aircraft's SpaceJet programme has been dealt a fresh blow after Trans States Holdings, which owns several US regional airlines, cancelled all of its orders for the aircraft.
The decision to axe the order for 50 SpaceJet M90s – plus 50 options – was made "after close discussions" as the 88-seat variant "does not meet the requirements of the United States market", says Mitsubishi Aircraft.
"Further discussions will be focused on the scope-compliant SpaceJet M100 aircraft," the Japanese airframer states.
The M100 was launched just before this year's Paris air show, and is a 76-seat variant tailored to US regional airline requirements. According to Mitsubishi Aircraft, the M100 will fit scope clauses, which largely restrict feeder carriers from operating aircraft with more than 76 seats or an MTOW exceeding 39,000kg.
The airframer says it is still open to discuss with Trans States for a potential M100 order. Trans States was an early customer of the programme, previously known as the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, having placed its order in 2009.
Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani acknowledges that since then, the scope clause "has not relaxed as anticipated".
He adds: "We have since shifted our strategy to be responsive to the market realities in the US, in partnership with our airline customers. We are confident that the SpaceJet M100 presents us with a market‐leading aircraft for North America."
With Trans States' cancellation, there remains only one other US regional operator that has committed to the M90 aircraft. SkyWest Airlines has 100 M90s on order, Cirium fleets data shows.
The M100, meanwhile, has attracted 115 commitments from North American customers.
The cancellation of orders comes as news reports suggest that the SpaceJet programme was facing a fresh round of delays.
Japanese news service Nikkei, without citing a source, reported that the latest round of delays stems from setbacks with development of the aircraft's fuselage, which is slowing type certification.