MRJ supplier says first flight delayed to end-2014

Taipei
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A supplier to the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) has confirmed that the Japanese aircraft programme has been delayed, and that the first flight of the aircraft has been pushed back a year to end-2014.

The source, from Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), which is designing and making slats, flaps, belly fairings, rudder and horizontal stabiliser rotating blades for the MRJ, says it has so far only delivered the metallic slats to Mitsubishi Aircraft.

The other parts, all made of composites, are undergoing certification and will only be progressively delivered to Mitsubishi from next March, he says.

"We understand that the first flight has been delayed a year to end-2014, and the aircraft will only be delivered to customers at the end of 2015," says the source.

At the Paris air show in June, Mitsubishi expressed confidence that the first flight would occur before the end of 2013.

The source attributes the delay partly to issues with the schedule of the Pratt & Whitney PW1200G geared turbofan, adding that AIDC is able to speed up certification and delivery of their parts if not for changes to the programme's schedule.

Last month, Mitsubishi said it was reviewing the schedule of its regional jet, the strongest indication yet that the programme could again be delayed. This disclosure came after Japanese media reports on 24 July said the programme would be pushed back because of issues in the procurement of key components from foreign manufacturers.

In a short statement, Mitsubishi singled out Pratt & Whitney, saying that all its partners, including the engine maker, are making their best efforts to meet the jet's development schedule.

Pratt & Whitney, however, told Flightglobal Pro that its engine is on track and will not affect the MRJ's required schedule.

Mitsubishi has a backlog for 165 firm orders with 160 options. The programme received a major boost last year when US carrier SkyWest Airlines made an order for 100 MRJ90s with an option for an additional 100 of the type.