Mitsubishi Aircraft plans to undergo organizational changes that will see MRJ program director Alex Bellamy run what the company calls its new program management division starting January 1, Mitsubishi announced Wednesday. Established to “reinforce the development and management of the MRJ program,” the division encompasses the newly established integrated product team (IPT) execution department, the governance management office, and the product strategy office.
Mitsubishi has also decided to restructure its engineering division from four departments (aircraft integration, mechanical system design, electrical system design, and airframe design) and the office dedicated to MRJ70 development into five departments encompassing aircraft integration, mechanical system design, electrical system design, airframe design, and avionics, fly-by-wire, and software design, along with three offices dedicated to interiors, test rig integration, and electrical wiring interconnect design. Mitsubishi said it expects the reorganization to achieve “more efficient communications and quicker decision-making.”
In a recent interview with AIN, Bellamy reported that program teams had flown four flight-test airplanes a total of some 1,500 hours, while production crews had attached wings and begun painting the fifth flight-test airplane.
Following no fewer than five major program delays, the MRJ has reached a point at which the company can integrate several design upgrades through the course of next year and test the effects of temperature extremes on the reconfigured avionics bay. Meanwhile, another six airplanes have entered various stages of assembly, laying the foundation for a plan to accelerate production “in a phased manner” until eventually reaching a rate of 10 per month.
First, however, engineers must endure what Bellamy described as an extremely busy year of test flying in 2018, culminating in installation of the final avionics bay configuration in the fourth flight-test example. Bellamy detailed the status of the flight-test program at Moses Lake, Washington, where the four existing flight-test airplanes have completed more than 50 percent of their duties ahead of expected certification in late 2019. Targeting first delivery to launch customer All Nippon Airways in mid-2020, program leadership now expects the MRJ flight-test airplanes to clock as many as 3,000 hours, some 500 hours more than originally allocated.