The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) flight test aircraft has completed structural reinforcements and is scheduled to resume flight tests this month. The prototype has been undergoing structural reinforcements and system software upgrades since the third test flight in late November 2015.
Japanese local media reports Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation discovered the need to strengthen the aircraft’s wing roots and the fuselage frame above the centre wing after structural tests before the first flight on November 11, 2015. A temporary treatment has been applied to the affected areas by strengthening the sections with ‘additional plates’.
The company says the reinforcements were added to the flight test vehicle, but for production aircraft the parts will be redesigned to increase the thickness by just a few kg overall.
The delay for first delivery to mid-2018 from the second quarter of 2017 – which was announced December 2015 – was not related to wing and fuselage strengthening work, says Mitsubishi, but rather the Japanese firm wants additional time for simulation ground tests before the first flight of each FTA. More time is also needed for data analysis gathered during test flights.
Enhanced simulation ground tests and analysis work in Japan, as well as the addition of more time between flight tests in the USA, where most of the program’s test flights will occur, are combining to add about a year to the testing.
The MRJ flight test aircraft could take its second and third flights this month because of the extensive ground tests that were completed earlier.
Mitsubishi plans on five aircraft for its MRJ flight testing fleet which should accumulate 2,500 hours.
February 2, 2016
Pic: Courtesy of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation.