Mitsubishi Seeks To Restart Aborted MRJ Ferry Flight

 - August 29, 2016, 11:59 AM
Mitsubishi is still preparing to fly the first prototype of its MRJ airliner to the Japanese company's new engineering facility at Moses Lake in Washington state. [Photo: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation]

[This story was updated on August 30 to incorporate fresh information from Mitsubishi]

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation is working to resolve issues that led to the first prototype of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) having to twice abort a ferry flight across the Pacific Ocean to the Japanese company's engineering facility in Moses Lake, Washington. In a statement issued today, the manufacturer confirmed that flights on August 27 and 28, "were aborted when anomalies were detected in the signals generated by sensors monitoring air management systems." 

The incidents forced MRJ test pilots to turn back to Mitsubishi's headquarters at Nagoya International Airport. Mitsubishi said that it hopes to resume the ferry flight "promptly" once inspections and any necessary measures to resolve the problem have been completed.

The MRJ has two air management systems installed on each side of the aircraft. The sensor malfunctions were experienced on the left side of the aircraft. "The air management system operated properly during the flights, however, considering the long flights to the United States, the decision was made to take all possible measures to fly the MRJ in a perfect condition," said the company.

The air management systems handle functions such as cabin air management and temperature control, engine bleed air, fuel tank inerting, cabin pressurization and control, ventilation, ice protection and liquid cooling.

Mitsubishi's schedules called for flight testing to start at the company's new engineering facility at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake during this year's fourth quarter, but the manufacturer had hoped to move that target forward to late summer. Mitsubishi achieved first flight of the MRJ on November 11, 2015, and has since engaged in limited flight testing in Japan as it aims to deliver the first airplane in the second quarter of 2018. The company landed its first European customer for the MRJ in July, when Swedish leasing group Rockton ordered 10 MRJ90s and reserved options on another 10.