MRJ engine begins flight testing despite aircraft delay

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Pratt & Whitney completed first flight of the PW1217G geared turbofan for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) on a company-owned 747SP flying test bed on 30 April, launching the year-long flight testing phase of an engine certification programme.

The 4h40min flight near P&W's headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut, allowed P&W engineers to assess overall engine characteristics, Bob Saia, P&W's vice president for next generation products, told reporters yesterday.

P&W plans to complete another 60h of flight tests that will "put the engine through its paces" during May, Saia says, with engine certification scheduled in early April 2013. Meanwhile, three more PW1217Gs are in ground testing.

The engine certification schedule has not changed despite a one-year delay for the MRJ aircraft programme announced last week, Saia adds.

"We're proceeding with [the schedule] where we're at," he says.

First delivery of the MRJ aircraft was delayed to early 2015.

"This programme is challenging because what we are developing is truly innovative and game-changing aircraft," says Hirofumi Takahashi, president of Mitsubishi Aircraft Americas, who spoke to reporters at the P&W media day event.

"We promise to keep the updated schedule to deliver MRJ to the customer," he adds.

The MRJ engine becomes the second version of the P&W geared turbofan family to enter flight tests.

P&W has been testing the PW1500G-series on the 747 flying test bed since last year. Bombardier plans to install the engines and fly the first CSeries test aircraft by the end of this year.