Mitsubishi Aircraft will cut more than half of its 2,000-strong workforce in a restructuring move as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate global travel demand and delays continue to plague its regional jet project, according to news reports from Japan and a company statement issued on Monday (15 June).
The aircraft-making subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has already said it will close its US headquarters, a development centre in Canada and sales offices in the US and Europe. They will also reshuffle its development team, with Chief Development Officer Alex Bellamy stepping down and Yasuhiko Kawaguchi taking the lead in aircraft development as chief engineer, starting 1 July.
In its statement Monday, Mitsubishi Aircraft said its new “operational plan” was “brought about by the significant changes in the aviation industry and the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy”. The company said in order to “weather the current crisis” it would “reorganise priorities and shift its focus from global development to perseverance and determination to achieve type certification on its SpaceJet M90.
“This new, harsh business environment also necessitated the development of a new operating plan for this fiscal year that included resizing its organization so that Mitsubishi Aircraft may endure and emerge from this crisis,” the company said. The company said it would focus on obtaining type certification for the SpaceJet M90 and will also focus on “reorganising, improving the current design at the aircraft-level, and validating data earned by over 3,900 hours of flight test”.
The company added that Mitsubishi Aircraft President Takaoki Niwa will continue to manage the overall business and Keisuke Masutani, director of the board, will continue to assist with corporate management while Hiroyuki Tatsuoka, also a director of the board, will support the overall development and technology.
The company added that Kawaguchi, who has 35 years of design experience at MHI and Mitsubishi Aircraft and played a central role in flight tests in the US, will be the executive chief engineer.