Speaking to a gathering of reporters Tuesday at the Regional Airline Association Convention in St. Louis, Mitsubishi Aircraft head of marketing Hideyuki Kamiya reported “good progress” on the now six-year-old Mitsubishi Regional Jet program. Now scheduled for first flight in 2015 and first delivery to Japan’s All Nippon Airways in the second quarter of 2017, the MRJ has progressed to the point where managers expect delivery of the first test aircraft’s initial Pratt & Whitney PW1217G by the end of this month, said Kamiya. Meanwhile, wing-to-body join activities continue on the first of five flight-test vehicles and Kamiya reported that the company took delivery of the airplane’s first pylon from Spirit Aerosystems last month. Crews have also begun joining the fuselage sections of the second flight-test aircraft.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries last week transferred the MRJ’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. In all, Mitsubishi plans seven test articles for the certification program, including five flight-test airplanes.
The program has so far suffered three 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 almost 10 years.