FARNBOROUGH: MRJ power-on set for August

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First activation of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet’s electrical system has been set for August, as the Japanese airframer focuses on meeting its target of first flight in the second quarter of 2015.

Mitsubishi Aircraft president Teruaki Kawai says the first MRJ will also be rolled out this autumn, shortly after the power-on of its first flight-test aircraft.

Kawai says progress on the jet is going well, but admits that the 88-seater is currently “a little overweight”.

“It’s a little heavier than we expected. It’s because we were a bit too optimistic in the first stage of designing. We didn’t understand the regulatory requirements, and when we investigate in detail, we had to put in more strength, etc,” says Kawai.

Before the regional jet’s first flight, major tasks Mitsubishi would have to complete include testings of its aircraft systems, complete static strength tests, and software verification.

Kawai says there are now three flight-test aircraft undergoing various stages of final assembly at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Komaki South plant.

He would not say how many aircraft Mitsubishi needs to produce to hit the break-even point for the programme, but hints that it will secure a sizable order at the show. There are 165 firm orders in the MRJ backlog from three customers: All Nippon Airways, SkyWest Airlines and Trans States Holdings.

The MRJ has started taking shape this year. Last month, the Pratt & Whitney PW1200G engines were mounted onto the aircraft, shortly after the airframer completed the wing-body join of the regional jet.