April 13, 2015
Mitsubishi Aircraft now under more pressure with maiden flight delays of the MRJ
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) is the first commercial aircraft to be manufactured in Japan since the 1960s when a 64-seat turboprop dubbed the YS-11 came off the production line, even though only 182 planes were built by a consortium that included Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Today, Mitsubishi Aircraft, which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi heavy industries and which has Toyota as an investor, is aiming to launch the MRJ as direct competition against the Bombardier 100-seat jet aircraft owing to its Pratt & Whitney engines offering a 20% fuel saving. The MRJ is aimed at taking over as the number 2 supplier of this type of aircraft behind Embraer.
However the project has been beleaguered with setbacks and this is yet another unforeseen delay. “We are still planning to deliver to ANA in the second quarter of 2017, so we don’t see the delayed test flight as having any serious impact,” Hiromichi Morimoto, president of Mitsubishi Aircraft, said at a press briefing in Nagoya. The maiden fight for this aircraft had been scheduled for June this year, but this has been delayed, for no apparent major reason, until the end of October. Mitsubishi Airways are still confident that they will still be able to meet the delivery deadline of the first aircraft to All Nippon Airways (ANA) by June 2017, though this date is already three years behind the initial schedule. While Bombardier are aware of the competition this new aircraft will present, they have already put a contingency plan into action to use the same Pratt & Whitney fuel-saving engines on jets produced from 2018 onwards. Mitsubishi Airlines aim to sell over 2,000 of these new aircraft at a list price of US$42 million, and already have 223 firm orders.