A rollout ceremony held Saturday in Nagoya, Japan, for the Mitsubishi MRJ regional jet marked a symbolic end of a 50-year wait for a new Japanese airliner to take shape. Not since the NAMC YS-11 turboprop flew for the first time in 1962 has a Japanese effort to break into the commercial airplane market reached such a state of progress. Under development for some seven years, the MRJ finally looks like an airplane capable of flying—and ultimately delivering the 20-percent fuel efficiency improvement over current designs Mitsubishi Aircraft advertises.
Two manufacturers shared the spoils of Japan Airlines’ major commitment announced last week covering a total of 47 regional jets. But the potentially bigger and undoubtedly more desperate winner proved to be Mitsubishi, the upstart regional jet manufacturer whose orderbook now shows memoranda of understanding, tentative agreements and firm orders from six customers.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation here on Monday announced a memorandum of understanding for 20 firm MRJ90 regional jets, with purchase rights for an additional 20 of the type, with Eastern Air Lines Group. Deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2019 and Boeing will support the aircraft.
Eastern Air Lines president and CEO Edward Wegel said the aircraft would be used on routes from the airline’s main base in Miami, Florida, to Latin America and the Caribbean. They will be operated in an 82-seat, two-class configuration, he added.
Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. has bought a new touch to the interior of its Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) mockup on display here at the Farnborough Airshow: a flanking pair of cabin dividers decorated with the traditional Japanese “Urushi-nuri Maki-e” lacquer art, created in collaboration with Wajima, a well known Urushi producer. One panel is fronted by an image of Mt. Fuji, the other by a Mejiro bird, and both are backed by ivy vines common to Japan.
The past few years have not been easy for Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, the company’s product marketing director Noriyoshi Saito indicated yesterday here at the Farnborough International Airshow. The Japanese manufacturer is nevertheless proudly displaying a cabin mockup of its long delayed Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ).
Mitsubishi Aircraft took delivery early last month of its first Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1200G geared turbofan at the Mitsubishi Regional Jet’s (MRJ) final-assembly factory in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Delivery of the engine from Pratt & Whitney’s Mirabel Aerospace Center in Quebec marks a major milestone toward final assembly of the first MRJ90 flight-test aircraft, which Mitsubishi expects to fly during next year’s second quarter.
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.
Mitsubishi Aircraft executives here at the Singapore Airshow yesterday insisted that the four-times-delayed MRJ program has found its stride, notwithstanding recent concerns expressed by its largest customer, SkyWest of the U.S. During a program update at the Singapore Airshow, Mitsubishi Aircraft (Booth V87) director and head of sales Yugo Fukuhara reported that airframe manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will join the wings to the now mostly assembled first fuselage in April, followed by the tail “in a few months.”
Mitsubishi Aircraft’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 led to the latest delay of the MRJ90, according to company executives.
SkyWest has signed Pratt & Whitney to manage the support of the PW1217G engines destined to power as many as 200 Mitsubishi MRJ90s, the engine company announced last month. Holding a firm order for 100 of the Japanese regional jets as well as options on another 100, SkyWest has engaged Pratt for a term of up to 16 years starting in 2017, when it expects to take its first MRJ.
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