MIAMI — Mitsubishi Aircraft has revealed today in a press conference held in Nagoya, Japan, that the initial delivery of its Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) scheduled for the second quarter of 2017, will be delayed by a year, after a review of the development plan following the onset of the flight test campaign.
According to the airframer, the maiden flight and subsequent testing, have proved to be satisfactory in terms of basic characteristics, “However, we also have recognised several issues as we attempt to accelerate our development.”
While the precise nature of these issues was not disclosed, initial results of static tests indicate that the airliner required a strengthening of the airframe and an upgrade of the aircraft’s software. Both of them are already underway.
Mitsubishi has also referred to advances in the engineering work of the program, working together with specialists in the United States — where it has engineering facilities — and making additions and reviews of test items in order to complete a “better integrated aircraft.” Mitsubishi assures that these changes have been incorporated in the new schedule as indicated below:
This is the third major delay in the program. According to the original schedule, the first flight was set for the second quarter of 2012, while deliveries were scheduled to be in the first quarter of 2014. The first flight was also delayed several times, until its debut that took place in the last month.
Mitsubishi Aircraft says it remains “firmly committed” to producing an aircraft with “higher levels of safety and reliability”.
Eastern CEO Remains Bullish On Program
Announced customers for the 70-90 passenger regional jet include ANA, JAL, SkyWest, Trans States, Eastern, and Air Mandalay. Eastern CEO Ed Wegel, whose airline has 20 MRJs on order, remains buoyant on the program. When reached for comment today Wegel said “Eastern has great confidence in the team at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation that they will produce an outstanding aircraft. The one year delay does nothing to deter our plans to take delivery of the MRJ-90 as soon as possible. We understand the reasons having been fully briefed by the MITAC team in the US and we are very comfortable with the progress being made. The MRJ-90 will be an excellent aircraft in our fleet.”
Delays have become the new normal in nearly all recent new airliner programs. The Airbus A320neo delivery has been slightly delayed until next week, while the Bombardier CSeries has been notoriously pushed by years with 2Q 2016 expected for its Enty Into Service (EIS). Meanwhile, the Boeing 737 MAX remains on track for now for its first flight in 1Q 2016 and EIS in early 2017 and Embraer’s upcoming E-Jet E2 family is due for its first roll-out in February.