Progress has proven slow–tediously slow–for Mitsubishi’s MRJ regional jet program during the two years between the 2011 Dubai Air Show and this one. In fact, program schedules reflect two separate year-and-a-half-long delays to certification since then, placing the company further from its elusive goal today than it thought it stood during the 2011 edition of the Middle East’s premier aerospace event.
Mitsubishi Regional Jet
Mitsubishi Aircraft’s failure to properly forecast the effects of new U.S. Federal Aviation Administration procedures introduced in 2009 to validate regulatory compliance of production processes led to the latest delay of the MRJ90, according to company executives.
Mitsubishi Aircraft suffered another credibility hit on Wednesday, as the company announced the third major delay to the MRJ regional jet program.
SkyWest has signed Pratt & Whitney to manage the support of the PW1217G engines destined to power as many as 200 Mitsubishi MRJ90s, the engine company announced last month. Holding a firm order for 100 of the Japanese regional jets as well as options on another 100, SkyWest has engaged Pratt for a term of up to 16 years starting in 2017, when it expects to take its first MRJ.
Mitsubishi Aircraft expects parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to start final assembly of the first MRJ90 in Nagoya, Japan, within “two to three months,” ostensibly in time for its planned maiden flight by year-end. Schedules call for first delivery of the airplane to launch customer All Nippon Airways of Japan by the end of 2015.
Japan’s first indigenous commercial passenger jet, the MRJ, is on track to make its first flight this year, according to Hideo Egawa, chairman and CEO of Mitsubishi Aircraft. While Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has long contributed components and assemblies in support of other manufacturer’s projects, the next-generation MRJ represents its first designed and produced passenger jet. Indeed, Egawa described the task of integrating all the efforts to produce the regional jet as one of the biggest challenges Mitsubishi Aircraft has faced since its launch in 2008.
Mitsubishi Aircraft remains on schedule to fly the first MRJ90 during the fourth quarter of this year, a full two years ahead of expected certification, director of marketing Yugo Fukuhara told an RAA Convention press conference in Montreal this morning.
Mitsubishi Aircraft has turned to Zodiac Seats to provide economy class seats for its new MRJ70 and MRJ90 regional airliners, after canceling a previous contract with Japan’s Delta Kogyo. According to marketing director Yugo Fukuhara, Mitsubishi and Delta Kogyo mutually agreed to scrap the agreement after failing to agree a plan for certifying the seats.
Mitsubishi Aircraft’s firm order in December for 100 MRJ90s from St. George, Utah-based SkyWest Airlines has not only confirmed the company’s ability to sell the new regional jet in large quantities, it might well have validated the wisdom of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ industrial ambitions.
Mitsubishi Aircraft has officially broken the Bombardier-Embraer duopoly for regional jets in the U.S. with its confirmation on Thursday of a firm order from SkyWest Airlines for 100 MRJ90s worth $4.2 billion at list prices.
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