PARIS: Mitsubishi Aircraft to conduct some MRJ flight tests in USA

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Mitsubishi Aircraft will be conducting some of the necessary flight tests for its regional jet programme in the USA.

These include critical runway tests, natural icing, extreme cold and hot, and noise tests, its marketing director Yugo Fukuhara told reporters at a programme briefing at the Paris air show.

These tests will be done using aircraft 10001 and 10004. The USA was picked because there are available airports with long runways and also the necessary weather conditions, he adds. The rest of the ground and flight tests will be done in Japan.

Mitsubishi will be using seven aircraft - two for ground tests and five for flight tests, for the certification of its regional jet, which is due to take its first flight by end 2013.

The Japanese airframer is conducting sub-assembly of the first flight test aircraft, involving putting together the centre wing box, fuselage and wings.

Final assembly of aircraft 10001 is expected to start in the next two months. Once done, assembly of aircraft 90001, which will be used for static strength tests, will start. Fukuhara adds that the test aircraft will be built one month apart.

Gearing towards first flight and certification, Mitsubishi has also set up a quality cost delivery unit in its Chicago office, which will conduct inspection and verification tests on major suppliers' work, thus "facilitating timely partner updates and issue resolution".

Asked about Embraer's new E-Jet E2 family, Fukuhara says it is still too early to evaluate the aircraft as the detailed configuration has not been revealed.

"The MRJ is designed from scratch to optimise fuel efficiency with the new GTF engine. E-jet is a good aircraft but it has legacy and commonality constraints," he adds.

Mitsubishi says it currently has 42% of the firm order backlog for regional jet deliveries in 2015 and beyond.