MRJ prototype resumes flight testing

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The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) FTA-1 has resumed flight testing after more than two months undergoing ‘structural reinforcements’ and software system upgrades.

Mitsubishi Aircraft (MA) would not comment on any upgrades carried out on the prototype, but Japanese press reports suggest the builder had identified a need to strengthen the aircraft’s wing roots and the fuselage frame above the center of the wing even before the first flight. It has since applied a ‘temporary treatment’, strengthening the sections with additional plates. These modifications will be applied to the second MRJ (FTA-2).

In late January, Mitsubishi revealed details of planned airframe strengthening modifications after it analyzed static test results last year that indicated a weakness in the airframe and wing attachment. “Some components that join the wing and the fuselage, as well as those of the fuselage frame, would have insufficient strength” during ultimate load tests, the manufacturer stated.

As a result, Mitsubishi has introduced additional plates to reinforce original parts, a move it had deemed unnecessary ahead of first flight but for which the Japanese Civil Aviation Board issued a special permit in October. “We decided to implement the upgrades during this round of feedback upgrades,” said MA.

Mitsubishi will be using five aircraft for the flight testing campaign, which collectively are expected to accumulate 2,500 hours of testing. First delivery for the MRJ is scheduled for Q2 2018 to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA), but the testing and delivery has experienced delays four times previously.

February 12, 2016

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