First Mitsubishi MRJ Lands in the U.S.

 - September 27, 2016, 9:46 AM
Mitsubishi MRJ FTA-1 approaches Moses Lake, Washington. (Photo: Mitsubishi Aircraft)

(Updated on September 29)

The first Mitsubishi MRJ flight-test airplane landed at Grant Couty International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, Wednesday evening for the start of its next phase of certification testing. The airplane originally took off from Japan’s Nagoya Airport at 1:28 p.m. local time on September 26. After a stop at Hokkaido’s Shin Chitose Airport, it flew to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the far east of Russia, from where it flew to Alaska for refueling before making its way down North America's Pacific coast to its final destination at 5:44 pm on Wednesday. The entire trip took about three and a half days, despite early indications from an MRJ spokesperson that it could last between four days and a week.

The trip marks MRJ FTA 1’s third attempt to fly to the U.S. to begin a planned regimen of trials out of Moses Lake, where Mitsubishi has established a new engineering facility from which to base flight testing of the first four prototypes. Mitsubishi conducted the first flight test of the fourth MRJ out of Nagoya on September 25.   

The company aborted attempted ferry flights of FTV 1 to the U.S. on August 27 and 28, when it detected anomalies in the signals generated by sensors monitoring the airplane’s air management systems. It has since replaced the faulty sensors and completed inspections to ensure the problem does not recur.

Mitsubishi’s schedules had called for flight testing to start 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 Nov. 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.

Separately, Mitsubishi on Thursday announced a management shuffle that saw four executives in its engineering division switch jobs effective October 1. Most notably, chief engineer and deputy general manager of system design Yasuhiko Kawaguchi becomes head of the engineering division, while current engineering head and senior vice president Naoki Futatsudera becomes senior chief engineer.