Mitsubishi Aircraft has passed a major milestone that should allow it to commence certification flight testing for the MRJ90 regional jet next year, while work on the design of the smaller MRJ70 is underway.
The manufacturer has received type inspection authorisation from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, which will allow it to kick off certification flight testing in early 2019.
“Throughout our program we have worked very closely with the JCAB to develop a well-defined set of processes, procedures and expectations that will take us to the type certification of our MRJ90,” says Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani.
“It has been a long, but necessary journey for the development of our MRJ program and for the commercial aviation industry in Japan.”
Most of the certification testing will be conducted from Mitsubishi Aircraft’s base at Moses Lake in the USA, where it has had four MRJ90s involved in various flight tests.
Andrew Telesca, head of Mitsubishi’s certification management office adds that the manufacturer is undergoing a safety review with the US Federal Aviation Administration to support the granting of a letter of authorisation ahead of the start of flight testing.
The MRJ programme has faced a number of delays, with the latest revealed in 2017 to accommodate a redesign parts of the avionics bay and rerouting some electrical wiring harnesses. That has pushed its projected entry-into-service to 2020, almost six years later than originally planned.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that there are 213 firm orders for the MRJ90 and 194 other commitments.
Meanwhile, at a recent press conference in Japan, Mizutani has signalled that progress is being made on the development of the smaller MRJ70, with a concept study underway.
“Considering that 10 years have passed since the MRJ90 development started, we are considering how we can incorporate the new technologies and the changes of customers’ needs but keeping the basis with MRJ90, in order to enhance the productivity of MRJ,” he says.
While there are no firm commitments for the MRJ70, the smaller variant is expected to make strong inroads in the USA market, as it is expected to comply with the scope requirements of regional carriers there.
The company has previously indicated that it plans to achieve type certification for the MRJ70 around 12-18 months after the MRJ90