updated 9:30 am, May 8
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on Wednesday transferred the Mitsubishi Regional Jet’s static strength test article from the final assembly factory—the Komaki South plant of MHI’s Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works in Aichi Prefecture—to the strength test station, where preparations have begun to start the program’s static trials this summer. Regulators require that two aircraft participate in airframe tests: one for strength and one for fatigue. In all, Mitsubishi plans seven test articles for the certification program, including five flight test airplanes. The company has painted the fuselage of the first flight test example, now under final assembly at Komaki South and in the process of undergoing wing-to-body join. Crews have also begun joining the fuselage sections of the second flight test aircraft.
Schedules now call for completion of certification testing and first delivery to Japan’s All Nippon Airways in the second quarter of 2017, two years after first flight. The program has so far suffered four major delays since its launch in March 2008, the most recent of which resulted from the company’s failure to properly forecast the effects of new U.S. Federal Aviation Administration procedures introduced in 2009 to validate regulatory compliance of production processes. It shifted the testing schedule by as much as two years, meaning, if all goes as now planned, the time between program launch and certification would span ten years.