Assembly work on the Mitsubishi Regional Jet officially began today with a ceremonial rivet-driving celebration at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Tobishima plant, MHI and Mitsubishi Aircraft jointly announced today. MHI riveters began work on the frame structure of an MRJ90, driving rivets into an area surrounding the emergency escape hatch in the roof of the aircraft’s cockpit.
According to Mitsubishi, the start of assembly work signals that the project remains on schedule for first flight in 2012, certification at the end of 2013 and entry into service in 2014. The Japanese company has collected firm orders for 65 MRJs, including fifteen 88-seat MRJ90s from launch customer All Nippon Airways, which also holds options on another 10, and 50 undefined MRJs from St. Louis-based Trans States Holdings, which also secured options on another 50. Trans States will become the first U.S. customer for the 76- to 88-seat family of regional jets.
In addition to fabricating the MRJ’s fuselage, wings and empennage, MHI also carries responsibility for final assembly and equipment installation on receipt of the various components now under production by the project’s various partners.
One of those partners, Pratt & Whitney, recently completed assembly of the first engine for the MRJ–a PurePower PW1217G “geared turbofan,” rated at 17,000 pounds of thrust. The third PW1000 series assembled by Pratt & Whitney, the PW1217G will soon make its way to the engine company’s West Palm Beach, Fla. facility for testing.