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Mitsubishi Aircraft Nears Final MRJ70 Design

Apr 29,2019

Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. is close to finalizing a refined design for the MRJ70, the shorter version of its MRJ regional jet, and by the end of June, two additional MRJ90 prototypes will be ready for MRJ flight testing, Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani said.

As the program works toward making a much-delayed first delivery in mid-2020, Mizutani said the company is aiming to achieve simultaneous airworthiness certification from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) and the two foreign agencies that are conducting shadow audits on the MRJ, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the FAA.

After more than three years of company evaluation of MRJ prototypes in the air, certification flight testing under supervision of the JCAB began March 3. The specific subject of the certification work is the 88-seat MRJ90 version, which the 76-seat MRJ70 is trailing by about one year.

The company said in November 2018 it was looking at how to refine the MRJ70, saying a new ¡°concept¡± was required because 10 years had passed since the launch of MRJ development. The work is almost done. ¡°We are almost at the end of concept studying and are trying to summarize our opinions,¡± Mizutani told reporters in Tokyo. Mitsubishi Aircraft provided excerpts from his remarks. The studies into improvements have focused on economics, passenger comfort and environmental performance.

The MRJ70 is looking increasingly important to the program, as major US airlines¡¯ pilot contracts continue to forbid operation of aircraft as heavy as the MRJ90 by carriers under outsourcing contracts. Nonetheless, Mizutani said the MRJ90 should be the priority as Mitsubishi Aircraft seeks more orders.

Company flight testing has reached about 2,600 hr. In March and April, it has included crosswind testing. Since company flight testing had totaled 2,400 hr. in early November, the pace has evidently not been fast in the past five months, presumably because the focus has shifted to certification flight testing.

FAA took part in familiarization flights in March, and on March 27 issued a letter of authorization, signaling its willingness to formally participate in flight testing.

The program at first planned to use a conventional total of five flight-test aircraft, but realized in 2016 that the design needed changes to avoid a risk to obtaining a type certificate. That implied a need for one or two more prototypes for the test effort, to verify the revised design; in February 2018, Mitsubishi Aircraft announced the two additional prototypes would be built. All seven are MRJ90s.

The extra two are in the final stage of production and will be added to flight testing in the second quarter, Mizutani said, emphasizing their completion and deployment in the flight-testing effort as the first of three priorities for the company. The other priorities are preparing type certification documentation and training pilots, especially for launch customer and initial operator All Nippon Airways (ANA).

When Mitsubishi Aircraft majority owner and partners formed Mitsubishi Aircraft and began MRJ development on April 1, 2008, the first delivery was due in the last quarter of 2013. Five delays since then have been mainly attributable to difficulties in meeting certification requirements.

Under this background, the "2019 Civil Aircraft Industry International Forum(CAIIF 2019)" is scheduled to be held in Xi'an on September 26th -27th, 2019, which will talk about Airworthiness Certification about China and in Global as well. CAIIF 2019 will bring together 200 delegates from Government Agencies, Regional Civil Aviation Bureau, Domestic and Foreign Airlines, Industry Association and Alliance, Airborne Interconnect System Integrator, Aircraft Manufacturer, Third Party Service Company, Aero Engine Company, Assembly Center, The Boeing Company, Airbus all together to sit down and discuss about the problems we¡¯re facing now in Certification, Aircraft Design and Manufacture, Airborne Systems.

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