Latest MRJ Delay To Last At Least a Year

 - April 25, 2012, 11:00 AM
A new program schedule calls for first flight of the Mitsubishi MRJ during next year's fourth quarter.

The first Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) will fly some time during next year’s fourth quarter, roughly a year later than last anticipated, according to a new program schedule summary issued by Mitsubishi Aircraft on Wednesday. As a result, the 92-seat MRJ90—the larger of a pair of models under development and the first scheduled for introduction—would not reach the market until the summer “or later half” of the 2015 Japanese fiscal year, which runs from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2016.

The announcement comes a little more than two months after the company first revealed a “rescheduling” of the program—during February’s Singapore Airshow. At the time, it appeared a confluence of events raised concerns among Mitsubishi executives about the program’s progress, but none on hand for the show would reveal the reasons for the delay.

A statement sent from Mitsubishi Aircraft to AIN by e-mail on Wednesday offered a somewhat opaque explanation.

“Mitsubishi Aircraft is conducting meticulous quality check of each process for not only manufacturing the aircraft but all development processes,” it said. “Our main partner, [Mitsubishi Heavy Industries], is conducting what we call [a] 4M Check [man, machine, material, method] for the processes under the Mitsubishi Aircraft control management framework.”

Second, the company said it “has taken time” to meet the “latest” criteria for all analysis and validation of new technologies such as the airplane’s low-drag fuselage and high-aspect-ratio wing.

“Upon developing aircraft, not only the specification of every process but also specification of verifying the validity of such processes has become required,” said Mitsubishi. “We are required to report and archive such processes in writing. Such works have taken up more time than we planned.”

In an official statement, Mitsubishi noted that the Pratt & Whitney PurePower engine program continues to progress smoothly and that the partners expect the MRJ’s PW1217G turbofan to fly on Pratt’s Boeing 747 test bed by the end of this month.