Mitsubishi Aircraft and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries launched the long-delayed 18-month flight test programme of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet on 11 November with the first flight of the MRJ90.
The Japanese manufacturer is aiming for first deliveries of the regional jet in the second quarter of 2017. Mitsubishi has firm orders for more than 220 aircraft from six airlines in Asia-Pacific and North America – All Nippon Airways, Air Mandalay and Japan Airlines in the Asia-Pacific and North American customers Eastern Air Lines, SkyWest Airlines and Trans State Holdings. ANA will be launch airline for the MRJ, with orders for 15 and options on a further 10.
The MRJ was originally launched in 2008, with an entry into service date of 2013, but the programme has been hit by delays. Mitsubishi is initially focusing on the Pratt & Whitney PW1200G-powered 90-seat MRJ90, to be followed a year later by the smaller MRJ70 and a possible 100-seat stretch MRJ100 version.
The MRJ took off from Japan’s Nagoya Airport for its 1.5 hours first flight, during which it confirmed its basic characteristics and functionality in ascent, descent and turning in airspace off the Pacific coast, says the manufacturer. “Operational performance of the MRJ exceeded expectations,” says pilot Yasumara.
The manufacturer is using five aircraft in an intensive flight test programme, with flight tests in the United States set for the second quarter of 2016 from the MRJ base at Grant County International Airport in Washington State.
“We will make our utmost efforts towards type certificate acquisition, committing all our resources to develop and produce the finest regional jet aircraft to enter commercial service in 2017,” says Hiromichi Morimoto, president, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation