Mitsubishi Aircraft executives here at the Singapore Airshow yesterday insisted that the four-times-delayed MRJ program has found its stride, notwithstanding recent concerns expressed by its largest customer, SkyWest of the U.S. During a program update at the Singapore Airshow, Mitsubishi Aircraft (Booth V87) director and head of sales Yugo Fukuhara reported that airframe manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will join the wings to the now mostly assembled first fuselage in April, followed by the tail “in a few months.”
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.
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.
The 500th Bombardier Global has entered service, with the milestone aircraft, a Global 6000, delivered to French corporation Groupe Bollore earlier this week. “We are delighted to mark this event with Groupe Bollore, a true example of global corporate leadership,” said Michel Ouellette, Bombardier Business Aircraft vice president and general manager for Globals. The first Global-series jet, a Global Express, was delivered in July 1999, to AirFlite, which operated the aircraft on behalf of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
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 received a huge dose of credibility at the Farnborough International airshow yesterday by announcing a 100-aircraft commitment for MRJ90s from the largest regional airline holding company in the world–SkyWest Airlines. The agreement in principle, signed just this week, potentially raises the MRJ regional jet family backlog to 170 airplanes and gives Mitsubishi its second major U.S. customer.
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