It has been 11 years since Mitsubishi Aircraft decided to launch the MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet) regional jet program and to this day no single aircraft has been delivered. But the Japanese manufacturer now glimpses a date for that to happen: 2020.
In an interview, company president Hisakazu Mizutani said the program will enter a new phase when two more prototypes join the five planes used in the tests.
The objective is to obtain the certification of the airplane with the Japanese authorities, as well as the European EASA and the American FAA.
Since the first flight of the MRJ90 model in November 2015, the twin engine has accumulated almost 2,700 flight hours, but has undergone several modifications to meet the certification requirements.
Even so, the Japanese jet now has a good order book with 213 firm orders and 194 commitments. The company All Nippon Airways will be the launch client of the MRJ90, capable of carrying 88 passengers.
MRJ70 near definition
In addition to the MRJ90 program, Mitsubishi also confirmed that the smaller model, the MRJ70, will have its project finalized in June. With seating for up to 76 seats, the jet was designed to satisfy US regional airlines that can not order larger airplanes.
But to make the MRJ70 more efficient, the manufacturer decided to upgrade the design to be more economical, comfortable and environmentally friendly. It remains to be seen whether this variant will meet the maximum takeoff weight of 86,000 pounds, part of the scope clause agreed upon between the three major US airlines and the crewmember union.
If it can achieve its goal, Mitsubishi will have delayed the program in seven years – the original debut date should have been 2013.