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SINGAPORE: MRJ goes full steam ahead on flight tests

Despite some hiccups over the past year, flight testing of the MRJ regional jet is continuing, with two production-representative examples set to join the test campaign later this year.

Yugo Fukuhara, vice-president and general manager sales and marketing at Mitsubishi Aircraft, says that the four flight test jets based at Moses Lake, Washington are conducting the first block of tests in the certification campaign.

He explains that while the four aircraft have yet to receive changes to the wiring harness and avionics bay, they can still be used to conduct certification tests in areas such as performance and systems functionality.

They will be joined by two additional prototypes, with incorporated changes to the wiring harness and avionics bay, later in the year. These jets will conduct the final block of certification tests.

Those changes forced Mitsubishi to delay the MRJ’s entry into service until 2020, but Fukuhara says that there have been no major issues so far.

“Last October we completed parts design for the avionics bay. We have also completed the main design of the wiring harness,” says Fukuhara. “There have been no major issues, so all the design work has been very successful.”

Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau is the lead certification agency, while the US Federal Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency are also involved in the programme.

The certification campaign has been supported by a number of foreign staff, but Fukuhara says Mitsubishi has “passed the peak” of hiring foreign experts.

Following a flameout incident in August 2017 that forced a temporary halt to the flight test campaign, Fukuhara says there have been no further issues with the Pratt & Whitney PW1200G engine, and that the engine maker has been “very supportive” of its test campaign.

With flight tests progressing and entry into service on-track, Fukuhara says Mitsubishi is starting to ramp up its support activities. It recently engaged Boeing unit CDG to assist with maturing the operating manuals for the MRJ. It was previously supported by Saab in the development of manuals.

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