The first Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90 in the design’s final certifiable configuration flew for the first time Wednesday, Mitsubishi Aircraft announced. Captained by Mitsubishi flight test pilot Hiroyoshi Takase, Flight Test Vehicle (FTV) 10 took off at 14:53 JST from Nagoya Airport in Japan and performed basic performance tests in normal operating conditions over the Pacific Ocean. The aircraft returned to Nagoya some two hours later, landing at 16:40 JST.
Completion of FTV10’s first flight marks the start of the final phase of certification flight testing for the M90, the larger of two SpaceJet regional jets under development by Mitsubishi.
“Today’s announcement is especially encouraging, as it marks the start of certification flight testing for the first SpaceJet M90 in final, certifiable configuration,” said Mitsubishi Aircraft chief development officer Alex Bellamy. “We are all proud of this latest accomplishment, which reflects the hard work of a dedicated team, the culmination of an organizational transformation, and all of the engineering changes made since 2016. We look forward to continuing our progress toward commercial certification of the M90 program.”
Mitsubishi Aircraft plans to continue flight tests on FTV10 in Nagoya over “the coming weeks,” in preparation for a ferry flight to Moses Lake Flight Test Center (MFC) in Washington state to join the remainder of the Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90 test fleet for the final phase of type certification flight testing.
On February 6 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries confirmed a new delay to the M90 program, acknowledging that it would not complete type certification of the new narrowbody this year as previously planned. MHI announced the program’s sixth major delay following a quarterly financial briefing. A company spokesman told AIN that the decision to further push back type certification followed multiple additional design changes to the 88-seat aircraft.
In January 2017, Mitsubishi delayed first delivery of the aircraft, then designated the MRJ90, from mid-2018 to mid-2020 due to revisions to certain systems and electrical configurations to meet the latest certification requirements. At that point, a revised mid-2020 target date would have meant that the airliner had fallen seven years behind the original service entry date, set at program launch in 2008.
In June 2019, Mitsubishi redesignated the 76-seat MRJ70 the M100 and the 88-seat MRJ90 as the M90, at the same time adopting the SpaceJet brand name. The M100 model meets the 86,000-pound maximum takeoff weight threshold to comply with U.S. pilot union scope clause agreements. Japan’s All Nippon Airways remains the program’s launch customer.