Mitsubishi to Delay MRJ First Flight

 - October 1, 2009, 8:52 AM

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (MJet) announced last month that it will delay first flight of the 92-seat MRJ90 by as much as six months, from late 2011 to the second quarter of 2012, to accommodate changes to the design of the cabin and the wing box. MJet now expects to deliver the first MRJ90 during the first quarter of 2014. Development of the 78-seat MRJ70 trails that of its larger sibling by roughly a year.

MJet says it has finalized the configuration of the MRJ, placing it on a path toward completion of critical design review and design freeze “in the coming months.” According to Mitsubishi, the new configuration incorporates a number of “significant” improvements resulting from discussions with and feedback from potential customers.

First, designers have increased the height of the cabin by 1.5 inches, raising head clearance by the same amount and increasing space in the overhead bin by 12 percent. The new configuration will allow passengers to store large-size roller bags in the overhead compartments.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Aircraft has combined the forward and aft cargo compartments into a single 644-cu-ft aft compartment, resulting in the same amount of space but making baggage handling simpler, with the added bonus of improved stacking efficiency.

MJet has also decided on an aluminum, rather than composite, wing box, easing the manufacture of an optimal wing structure, according to the company. The aluminum box will allow for a shorter lead time for structural changes and allow designers to more easily optimize the wings to match the attributes of each variant of the MRJ series.

Mitsubishi has now begun to consider a 100-seat version of the airplane, contingent on enough market demand to trigger a full-scale launch. As late as the Regional Airline Association convention, held May 18 to 21 in Salt Lake City, Mitsubishi Aircraft executive v-p Junichi Miyakawa dismissed the idea of a stretched variant due to the regulatory requirements that call for a third flight attendant in airplanes that carry 100 seats.