Mitsubishi reiterates Q4 first flight for MRJ

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Mitsubishi Aircraft has reiterated its expectations that the first flight of the MRJ regional jet will occur during the fourth quarter, despite outside concerns that engine certification will push it back to 2014.

"The timing of engine type certificate will not be an issue with our first flight timeline," says Yugo Fukuhara, director of marketing in the sales and marketing department at Mitsubishi Aircraft, at the Regional Airline Association (RAA) annual conference in Montreal today.

P&W told Flightglobal in April that the PW1200G engine, which will power the MRJ family, is about halfway through the testing programme and on-track for certification in mid-2014.

It is widely anticipated that the first flight of the MRJ will be delayed into 2014. It was originally scheduled for late 2011 but was delayed twice to this year.

Delivery to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) is scheduled for 2015, with aircraft going to Trans States Airlines in 2016 and SkyWest Inc in 2017, says Fukuhara.

Mitsubishi's MRJ has 56% of the current wave of new regional jet orders from North American customers, he says. He adds that this includes United Airlines' order for up to 70 Embraer 175s on 29 April.

Mitsubishi anticipates that North America will continue to drive demand for new regional jets with a need for 1,640 aircraft - or 30% of global demand - over the next 20 years, says Fukuhara. Asia-Pacific and Latin America will be the largest growth markets, expanding to 1,030 aircraft in the former and 740 aircraft in the latter.