Mitsubishi MRJ90 to fly in 2011

Farnborough Air Show » 2008
August 5, 2008, 8:56 AM

Mitsubishi will fly its new 86- to 96-passenger MRJ90 for the first time in 2011, the Japanese industrial giant said here. Development of a smaller version, designed to seat between 70 and 80, lags by roughly one year.

Making its first international airshow appearance as Mitsubishi Aircraft–the new division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries established specifically to market the new regional jet–the company has issued a list price of $38 million for the first variant, but hasn’t committed to a price for the smaller MRJ70.

Mitsubishi predicts that its strongest market will reside in North America, where it will compete head-to-head with long-established RJ manufacturers Bombardier and Embraer. But the company anticipates that regional aircraft growth in Asia and Europe will help fatten its order book. It places its breakeven point at 1,000 unit sales. Mitsubishi said earlier that it will not seek buyers in China and Russia; both countries are building their own regional jets.

The launch customer for the MRJ90 will be Japan’s ANA, whose board of directors in March placed a firm order for 15 and 10 options, with delivery planned from 2013. The MRJ, which will be powered by the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF), was chosen on the basis of safety, overall economy, operational and environmental performance and passenger comfort, ANA said.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the biggest investor with two-thirds of the development cost. Investors in the remaining third are Toyota, Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsue & Co., Sumitomo Corp., Development Bank of Japan and Tokio Marine Nichido. Capital totals $1 billion.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. will take responsibility for design, procurement, sales and customer support, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries performs the manufacturing, testing and final assembly.

The MRJs will have composite wings and empennages, but metal fuselages. Composites will amount to 28 percent of the finished aircraft, achieving lower maintenance costs. The remainder will be 56 percent aluminum, 9 percent titanium and 4 percent steel.

In part because of the Pratt &Whitney GTF, Mitsubishi claims its RJs will exceed current Stage 4 noise standards by more than 10 decibels and yield a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption over current regional jets.

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