Getting its MRJ regional jet certificated is the biggest challenge Mitsubishi Aircraft expects to have to overcome for its in-development aircraft programme.

Speaking to Flightglobal in an interview, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ chairman Hideaki Omiya says the MRJ’s schedule has previously been pushed back because of certification issues, and that the last time the Japanese authorities certificated an aircraft was over 15 years ago for a helicopter programme.

“I think the most difficult thing is to get certification on time. Since we do not have experience in this area for a long time, we’re now struggling, but I think we can overcome,” says Omiya.

In order to avoid falling into the same situation as Chinese airframer Comac, which is still struggling to get its 12-year-old ARJ21 programme certificated, Mitsubishi has signed a letter of intent to cooperate in flight-test work with Aerospace Testing Engineering & Certification, Mitsubishi Aircraft president Teruaki Kawai tells Flightglobal.

The Seattle-based company provides flight testing, data analysis and FAA certification services for aircraft manufacturers. Mitsubishi has also said that test modules such as envelope expansion, system tests, performance tests and icing tests will be conducted at Grant County International airport in the US state of Washington.

“In Mitsubishi we have no experience in certification except me. I was involved in the [MU-300] Diamond [private jet] certification, but that is just one person,” says Kawai. “In the US, however, they have a lot of local experience.”

Omiya adds that since the MRJ project was launched in 2008, the Japanese authorities have also been in frequent contact with the American and European regulators, increasing its understanding of the certification process.

“They are getting better and better and we are also getting better. So now I’m confident we’ve developed very good knowledge and experience in that matter. But of course flight testing is still a very difficult phase for us and there are many issues in flight testing we are going to overcome,” he says.

MHI’s experience in fighter aircraft and bullet train projects also means it “knows how to integrate very sophisticated technology”, says Omiya. MHI is Mitsubishi’s largest shareholder and also responsible for airframe manufacturing and final assembly of the MRJ.

“I am quite confident that we can get certification in time and deliver the first shipset to All Nippon Airways.”

Mitsubishi has so far received 191 firm orders and 184 options and purchase rights for its regional jet programme. Japan Airlines has also signed a letter of intent for 32 of the regional jets.

The MRJ is scheduled to take its first flight in 2Q 2015.

Source: Cirium Dashboard