Earlier this week, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) took to the skies for the first time. The aircraft lifted off from Nagoya Airfield (NKM) and flew for about 90 minutes before landing. The flight not only was special for the aircraft manufacture, but also for the country of Japan, since they have now joined the exclusive club of countries that produce a flight worthy airliner.
“The MRJ successfully took to the sky today thanks to ongoing cooperation and support from all members involved,” said Hiromichi Morimoto, President, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. “We will make our utmost efforts towards type certificate acquisition, committing all our resources to develop and produce the finest regional jet aircraft to enter commercial service in 2017.”
According to one of the pilots, the first flight was a success. “Operational performance of the MRJ was far better than expected. We had a significantly comfortable flight,” said Captain Yasumura.
Like many first flights, it has been delayed, the last due to a faulty rudder pedal. However, after completing about 2,500 hours of flight tests, the first plane is expected to be delivered during the second quarter of 2017.
Much of the flight tests will be based out of Grant County International Airport (MWH) at Moses Lake, where Boeing also completes some of its own flight testing.
Part of the work will be putting the two Pratt & Whitney PurePower 1000G family engines to the test. P&W and Mitsubishi has developed the PW1215G and PW1217G engines together.
“Over the course of our history, Mitsubishi and Pratt & Whitney have worked to innovate and create new technologies that advance the passenger travel industry,” said Greg Gernhardt, president, Pratt & Whitney Commercial Engines. “What we have accomplished together is truly impressive and we look forward to continuing on this path forward.”
The MRJ70 is designed to hold 70-ish passengers (78 with a 29″ seat pitch) and the MRJ90 will hold (wait for it…) around 90. This puts the aircraft in competition with Embraer and Bombardier regional aircraft families.
To date, there have been over 400 orders/options for the MRJ, with Sky West, Trans States Holdings and Eastern Air Lines having the most.
It will be interesting to see how the MRJ might shake things up in the regional jet market. So far, other than a few hiccups, the plane has been able to prove itself, now it just needs to deliver on expected efficiency and start flying passengers.