MIAMI — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the parent company of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. (MAC), has confirmed a two-year delay in the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) program.
In a statement, the company announced that the first delivery of the MRJ to Japan’s All Nippon Airways, has been adjusted from mid 2018 to mid 2020, citing “revisions of certain systems and electrical configurations on the aircraft” intended to meet the latest requirements for certification.
The company further stated that these design changes “will not affect aircraft performance, fuel consumption, or functionality of systems.” The changes will not also affect the results of the ultimate load test, which has been already completed.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. has flown three MRJ planes to the US for testing, following setbacks in 2015. The arrival of the first aircraft to the US was delayed a month after two previous attempts were aborted due to issues related to the monitoring function of the left air management system. The US flight campaign began last October, now with three Flight-Test Aircraft (FTA). FTA-1 and -2 are currently performing functional and performance tests, FTA-3 is assessing the flight characteristics. A fourth aircraft (FTA-4) will be fitted with a passenger cabin to evaluate the interior, noise and anti-icing systems, while FTA-5 will carry out autopilot trials in Japan.
MRJ testing will be spread all across the US, based in Washington with the Seattle Engineering Center and Moses Lake Flight Test Center at the base airport. Flight testing will also take place in Roswell, New Mexico for Special Runway Testing tests, Gunnison, Colorado for High Altitude takeoffs and landings trials, and the McKinley Climatic Laboratory in Florida for Extreme Weather Environment tests.
The MRJ90 made its first flight in November 2015. Although Japan has gained relevance in the last years as a major aerospace industry player, its experience in aircraft manufacturing is not a novelty. The last passenger airliner built by Japan was the turboprop YS-11, which had just limited success with just 182 aircraft built since its roll out in 1962.
Devised for regional markets, the MRJ offers two variants, the MRJ 70 which seats up to 78 passengers, and the MRJ 90 which offers seating up to 92 passengers. These aircraft are aimed to break into a market segment widely dominated by Embraer (Brazil) and Bombardier (Canada).
To date, the MRJ program has logged 447 orders and commitments. Last year, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has logged an order for 10 MRJ90s (plus 10 options) from Swedish lessor Rockton, the first European customer for the type, and 20 aircraft from Aerolease Aviation. The airframer has also held conversations with Iran for 20 aircraft.