Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has confirmed a two-year delay to the MRJ regional jet programme, the fifth time its schedule has been pushed back since launching in 2008.
The first MRJ90 is now targeted to be delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airways in mid-2020, from a former goal of mid-2018.
“The change is due to revisions of certain systems and electrical configurations on the aircraft to meet the latest requirements for certification,” says MHI and Mitsubishi Aircraft in a joint statement.
It emphasised that the design changes will not affect the aircraft’s structure, nor its performance, fuel consumption or the functionality of its systems.
“We will continue with [the] ongoing flight test programme with current test aircraft configuration and obtain certification flight test data of performance, flight characteristics for type certification,” it adds.
The Japanese manufacturer says it has enhanced its business structure, with more foreign experts appointed to "fast track" the MRJ's development. A programme management system has also been put in place, and the type certification process clearly laid out.
It has also set up a business promotion committee, personally chaired by MHI president and chief executive Shunichi Miyanaga, to oversee the MRJ’s development. This will also allow for quick decision-making and execution.
The MRJ90 is now expected to obtain type certification in mid-2019. Mitsubishi says the programme has made “significant progress” in both engineering and tests, with three flight test prototypes in the US.
The aircraft are now undergoing flight tests to determine its configuration for type certification. The jets are expected to be fully engaged in certification flight tests from the second quarter of the year, and throughout 2018.
In a presentation in Tokyo, Mitsubishi also acknowledged that the delay will raise development costs. It expects cash flow to “peak out” within two to three years, but assured that future cash demand can be met by the MHI group. Although the profit payback period will be prolonged, the impact on profit for each fiscal year will be minimal, it adds.
“MHI is committed to the development and delivery of the MRJ with world-class performance and compatibility with the latest industry certifications,” it adds.
When the programme was launched in March 2008, the original target was for the first aircraft to enter service in the second half of 2013. The last time Mitsubishi announced a delay was in December 2015, pushing back delivery of the first aircraft by a year to mid-2018.
Mitsubishi has commitments for 427 aircraft, comprised of 233 firm orders, 170 options and 24 purchase rights.