Mitsubishi Aircraft starts ‘iron bird’ test on MRJ

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The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) passed an important milestone with the developmental aircraft's "iron bird" rig simulating it becoming airborne for the first time, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp said in a statement.

The MRJ's iron bird rig comprises a flight deck, hydraulic and flight control equipment, and the software to be used aboard the MRJ, said Mitsubishi Aircraft.

"The iron bird is one of the most significant systems integration test of the development process to test the manoeuvring functions of the MRJ," the statement said

The rig is located at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' Oye factility in Nagoya, where testing and development of the MRJ is underway.

"The successful start of these manoeuvring tests shows the steady progress of MRJ development toward flight tests," said Mitsubishi Aircraft.

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© Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation

Iron bird tests with the MRJ will continue over the next three years. Mitsubishi Aircraft has said that the 90-seat MRJ90 is due to conduct its first flight test in the second quarter of 2012. Mitsubishi Aircraft also plans a 70-seat version.

Only three customers have announced plans to buy the MRJ. Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) has a firm order for 15 aircraft and 10 options, and US firm Trans States Holdings has a firm order for 50 and an option for 50 more. In June, Hong Kong-based leasing firm ANI Group Holdings signed a memorandum of understanding to buy five. ANI is a unit of Aero Nusantara Indonesia, a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) firm that also leases aircraft to five Indonesian carriers.