The Mitsubishi Regional Jet project officially entered its manufacturing phase today, as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Mitsubishi Aircraft held a ceremony in Nagoya, Japan, to mark the start of production of the first MRJ part. During the event, MHI technicians began cutting aluminum for a frame component associated with the airplane’s horizontal stabilizer.
Hideo Egawa, Mitsubishi Aircraft president, joined Akihiko Ihikawa, deputy general manager of MHI’s Nagoya plant, to host the festivities at Nagoyo Aerospace Systems Works.
The start of MRJ production signals the successful conclusion of this past summer’s detailed design review, during which MHI froze the final configuration of the 88-seat MRJ90 and reached conclusions about the changes needed for the 76-seat MRJ70 and the still unlaunched 100-seat MRJ100X. Following MHI’s lead, project partners will now launch manufacturing of the various components for which they have taken responsibility, based on production drawings now in process.
Along with producing major components such as the MRJ’s fuselage, wing and empennage, MHI will also conduct final assembly and equipment installation. Final assembly will take place at MHI’s Komaki South plant, located adjacent to Nagoya Airfield, the regional airport north of the city center. Although it stopped building the MU-300 business jet at Komaki South after Raytheon bought that airplane’s marketing rights and renamed it the Beechjet 400 in 1985, MHI still assembles the F-2 fighter jet at the plant for the Japanese Self Defense Forces.
Plans call for the 88-seat MRJ90 to fly for the first time in 2012, gain Japanese certification in late 2013 and enter airline service during the first quarter of 2014. The MRJ70 would likely gain certification roughly a year later. The MRJ100X remains in the preliminary design phase. Still yet to draw a customer, that airplane likely won’t reach the market until 2016 or 2017, depending on when the company decides to launch the program.