Mitsubishi MRJ Schedule Slips Further
In a press conference update on progress with the MRJ regional jet, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has confirmed, as anticipated, a two-year delay to the programme. The first MRJ90, the 90 seat version, is now expected to be delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) in mid-2020.
This is not the first delay in the programme. So far there have been 5 slips in the delivery schedule, totalling 5 years.
The prototype first flew on 11 November 2015, but a year later there was a major reorganisation in the programme to try to restore order.
In a joint statement MHI and MAC said:
The change is due to revisions of certain systems and electrical configurations on the aircraft to meet the latest requirements for certification.
We will continue with [the] ongoing flight test programme with current test aircraft configuration and obtain certification flight test data of performance, flight characteristics for type certification.
They say that the revisions will not affect the aircraft’s structure, its performance, or system functionality.
Mitsubishi has commitments for 427 aircraft, comprised of 233 firm orders, 170 options and 24 purchase rights.
The MRJ will be the first airliner designed and produced in Japan since the NAMC YS-11 in the 1960s.
UPDATE 30 January 2017: In an editorial, Flight International comment:
Although the MRJ’s customers in the USA may express their frustration, the fresh delay does not significantly inconvenience them, as pilot scope clauses will prevent its deployment there until 2019 at the earliest.
However, the real worry for the fledgling airframer is the competitive advantage it is ceding to rival Embraer. The MRJ should have had a seven-year head-start over the E175-E2, but assuming current schedules hold, that has now been whittled down to just 12 months.
UPDATE 31 January 2017: The company plans to boost the number of engineers at its Seattle facility from 150 to 200. Additionally:
ANA, Japan’s biggest airline, said last week it was “disappointed” at this latest delay, but will continue to support the development of the jet as its launch customer. The carrier will maintain its order of 25 planes, including options, it said.
St. George, Utah-based SkyWest Inc., which has placed an order for 200 planes including options, said last week that its firm orders for the MRJ aircraft “remain unchanged” and are dependent on flying contracts and scope availability. Bridgeton, Mo.-based Trans States Airlines Inc., which has 100 MRJs on order, said in an e-mail that it was “disappointed” by the additional delay.
UPDATE 3 April 2017: The fourth MRJ, FTA-3, has arrived at Moses Lake after a 19 day ferry flight, delayed by hydraulic problems en route.
UPDATE 26 April 2017: Production line photographs.