Bombardier Inc. is suing Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., a U.S. aircraft engineering and consulting business, and some former Bombardier employees, claiming the rival jet builder profited from trade secrets unlawfully passed by the former employees to Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi Aircraft is a joint venture of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Inc., Toyota Motor Corp., and Subaru Corp. that is developing the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, a 90-seat, twin-engine aircraft that Mitsubishi HI will manufacture.
Specifically, Bombardier accuses Mitsubishi Aircraft of violating the 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act by trying to use confidential data and documents obtained from former employees to speed up the process of gaining regulatory certification for the MRJ.
The MRJ has been in development for more than 15 years, and Mitsubishi has been taking orders for the jets since 2007, with design delays pushing the first flight into 2015. The first deliveries were set for this year, but now are scheduled for 2020.
The suit contends that the Bombardier employees were recruited by Mitsubishi or AeroTEC to provide insight gained from the Bombardier C Series twin-engine jet program. Further, Bombardier contends that the employees provided confidential documents and data concerning the certification of C Series in the U.S. and Canada. It asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent Mitsubishi Aircraft and AeroTEC from using information provided by the former Bombardier employees.
The C Series refers to two jets Bombardier developed at a reported cost of $6 billion, which debuted in 2016. Earlier this year, the CS-100 and CS-300 were relabeled the A220-100 and A220-300, following a 50.01% share acquisition of the C Series by Airbus SA.
While the MRJ is more directly competitive to Bombardier’s CRJ regional aircraft, the jet builder reportedly believes that the new jets would create a market opening for another series that would challenge the C Series/A220 program.