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P&W delays MRJ engine certification to fit airframe schedule

Pratt & Whitney has delayed certification of the PW1200G geared turbofan that powers the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) by several months to late 2013, in order to focus on a different variant in development for the Bombardier CSeries.

The decision by the engine supplier comes about five months after Mitsubishi delayed the aircraft's first flight by 18-21 months to the fourth quarter of 2013.

The MRJ was supposed to be ready for flight tests in April 2012, but the airframer needed more time to certify its production system with Japanese regulators to begin building the first aircraft.

That decision allowed P&W to slow the certification schedule for the MRJ engine - the PW1200G - by about a year. Now, it is postponing the airworthiness milestone even further. However, the delay is still within Mitsubishi's revised timeline for the aircraft's first flight.

"We thought we could end up doing two things" by delaying PW1200G certification again, says Bob Saia, vice-president of P&W's next generation product family.

First, P&W saves money because the delay means that the MRJ engine will now follow the development of the PW1500G engine for the CSeries. The MRJ engine will need to copy any improvements required by regulators for approval on the CSeries engine, Saia says.

But the changes should be minor, he adds. "It might be changing the thickness on a part or a curvature," Saia says. "We're not talking drastic changes here."

Second, the delay on the MRJ engine allows P&W to focus more resources on completing the PW1500G engine certification for the CSeries, Saia says. The PW1500G must achieve certification within three months for Bombardier to achieve their first flight scheduled at the end of this year.

P&W will deliver the first two production engines to Bombardier in the "next few weeks", Saia adds.

"We're pleased with the overall programme plan with the CSeries," he says.

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