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.
“This is just a concept, to feel [the spirit of] Japan,” said Noriyoshi Saito, MRJ product marketing manager. “We don’t know if the dividers can be certified, [but] we wanted to show Japanese hospitality along with the hardware.”
The company also wants to make the point that the MRJ represents the finest in Japanese craftsmanship, just as Urushi-nuri does. The 26-foot long mockup contains two rows of business class and three rows of slim line economy class seats, all made by Zodiac, separated by the lacquered cabin dividers. The distance between the rows of seats in economy varies from 29 to 32 inches, so potential customers can see and compare the difference in possible cabin configurations.
Featuring the tallest and widest cabin in class, the MRJ (Outdoor Exhibit E7) also boasts the largest overhead bins in class, accommodating two IATA maximum-size roller suitcases each. “The bigger the bin, the less frustration for passengers and the lower the boarding time,” Saito said. An onboard wheelchair makes the lavatory wheelchair accessible. “For this size aircraft, that’s not very usual, but we want to be kind and open [the aircraft] for those disabled people, as well,” said Saito.
Rockwell Collins will provide the avionics for the aircraft, developed from its Pro Line avionics suite for business jets, which Saito notes are often better equipped than commercial airliners. “Of course the operator [of a regional jet] is cost conscious, so we’re not bringing everything” from a high-end business jet avionics suite into the MRJ.
After three major delays, the company feels the MRJ’s developmental problems are behind it, with first flight scheduled for next year and deliveries to launch customer All Nippon Airways set to begin in 2017.
For skeptics in attendance at the airshow, the mockup “is one of the approaches [we’re using] to convince people there will actually be an aircraft,” said Saito. And one that will feature the highest level of Japanese craftsmanship, he might have added.