The Air Current

Point/Counterpoint: On October 21, Bombardier filed suit against Mitsubishi Aircraft Company (Mitac) and its Seattle testing partner AeroTec, alleging the company had illegally acquired its proprietary trade secrets as the Japanese company actively recruited industry veterans in Montreal and elsewhere with expertise in aircraft design, testing and certification.

The suit, filed in U.S. Western District Court, sought “a preliminary injunction to prevent Mitsubishi Aircraft and AeroTEC from using the information it says was taken. The lawsuit says the employees sent key documents to their personal email accounts prior to leaving Bombardier and joining the Mitsubishi project,” according to Reuters.

The Mitsubishi staff-up to fix its MRJ90 regional jet program and steer it back toward certification came as Bombardier and Boeing shed staff of their own with layoffs and retirements following their own protracted and expensive development programs.

In response, Mitsubishi filed a motion on December 20 to dismiss the suit and issued an expansive defense of its hiring practices. Mitac’s Director of Strategic Communications, Jeff Dronen, told The Air Current that the company believed Bombardier’s suit was aimed to “disrupt development” of the competing MRJ90 and that the documents weren’t proprietary and didn’t apply to its certification effort given the differences in Japanese regulatory structure.

Separately, Mitac and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB), the nation’s aviation regulator, announced that it had awarded type inspection authorization to the MRJ90. It’s a significant milestone for the long-delayed program. TIA represents that Mitsubishi has a stable design and configuration it believes conforms for full certification evaluations of the MRJ90 expected to begin in early 2019 from its Moses Lake, Wash. flight test center. Further, the award is a signal of Japan’s own regulatory and bureaucratic readiness to certify the first homegrown airliner in the country’s history since the turboprop YS-11 in the 1960s. – J.O.

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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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