The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) made its long-awaited first flight today, taking off from the Japanese manufacturer’s Nagoya Airport base at around 9.30 a.m. local time. According to a statement from Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation and its parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the new narrowbody safely conducted a 90-minute flight off Japan’s Pacific Coast during which it “confirmed its basic characteristics and functionality in ascent, descent and turning.”
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation president Hiromichi Morimoto commented, “The MRJ successfully took to the sky today thanks to ongoing cooperation and support from all members involved. We will make our utmost efforts toward type certificate acquisition, committing all our resources to develop and produce the finest regional jet aircraft to enter commercial service in 2017.”
According to Captain Yoshiyuki Yasumura, who flew the aircraft, “Operational performance of the MRJ was far better than expected.” No further details of the flight were released on November 11.
Flight-testing will now continue as Mitsubishi aims to achieve first deliveries of the MRJ in the second quarter of 2017. From the start of the second quarter of 2016, flight-testing will begin in the U.S. at Mitsubishi’s new engineering facility at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington.
The MRJ program schedule is running more than three and a half years late due to various complications. The initial MRJ90 version of the aircraft will seat 92 passengers in a single-class configuration. It is powered by Pratt & Whitney’s new PW1200G turbofans.
To date, six airlines have placed a total of 223 firm orders for the MRJ and a further 184 units are covered by options. These include U.S. regional airlines Trans States and SkyWest.