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MRJ at midpoint of flight test campaign

Mitsubishi Aircraft has reached the halfway mark of its MRJ regional jet's flight test campaign, having clocked more than 1,500 flight hours.

In response to queries from FlightGlobal, the Japanese manufacturer says that the flight rate at its Moses Lake flight test centre has improved, with less than 1% of scheduled flight tests cancelled due to technical issues.

The target is to "accelerate" its flight test campaign in 2018, as it works towards type certification of the 90-seat regional jet.

Next year will see Mitsubishi push to complete all tests that were set up before its January 2017 decision to change the design of its avionics bay to comply with certification requirements. Major tests planned include special runway tests, extreme environment, and high altitude tests, all to be done in the USA.

An additional flight test aircraft with the incorporated design changes is scheduled to join its flight-test campaign in the second half of the year. That jet will focus on tests associated with its wiring, such as lightning and high-intensity radio-frequency tests.

The original plan was for 2,500 flight test hours, but around 500 extra flight hours have been added due to the late design change.

"We are continuing on making progress for acquiring the type certification by working closely with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau and the US Federal Aviation Administration," says Mitsubishi.

The airframer is targeting to deliver the first aircraft to launch customer All Nippon Airways by mid-2020.

Mitsubishi has firm orders for 233 aircraft from seven customers but could face a cancellation from Eastern Air Lines following the latter's acquisition by luxury private charter operator Swift Air. The Miami-based start-up has a firm order for 20 MRJ90s, with purchase rights for an additional 20 aircraft.

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