Mitsubishi to review MRJ test and delivery schedule

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Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation is reviewing the delivery schedule of its Mitsubishi Regional Jet, pointing to a possible fresh delay to beginning operation of Japan’s first commercial passenger plane in half a century.

In a joint statement with parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on Wednesday, December 16, 2015, Mitsubishi Aircraft said it was reviewing the entire schedule from testing to the first delivery and would release the results of the review before the end of December 2015.

The Nikkei Asian Review (NAR) reports, “the first delivery to ANA Holdings’ All Nippon Airways (ANA) will likely be moved back from between April and June 2017 to the latter half of 2018.”

The jetliner has cost nearly ¥300bn (US$2.44bn) to develop so far, including the government’s contribution. The new delay could push this figure even higher, potentially affecting the financial strategies of Mitsubishi Aircraft and parent Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Obtaining a type certificate will require roughly 2,500 hours of test flight time. The process of using flight control system and engine data from test flights to confirm that the components perform as designed will require more time than expected. Specification changes requested by ANA are another likely factor behind the delay, reported the NAR.

Mitsubishi Aircraft has orders for 407 MRJs, including Japan Airlines and US carrier SkyWest. More than 180 of these are under option, meaning that the orders can be canceled. Cancellations of existing contracts would throw a wrench into Mitsubishi Aircraft’s plans to turn a profit in fiscal 2020.

The US$47 million, 100 seat MRJ, which made its maiden test flight last month, represents Japan’s long-held ambition to re-establish a commercial aircraft industry.

This delay puts the project roughly five years behind the original schedule released in 2008. Although ANA has ordered 25 planes, it could be forced to reconsider its procurement plans.

December 18, 2015

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