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Mitsubishi Regional Jet

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (Japanese: 三菱リージョナルジェット), or MRJ for short, is a twin-engine regional jet aircraft seating 70–90 passengers manufactured by Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, a partnership between majority owner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and minority owner Toyota Motor Corporation with design assistance from Subaru Corporation, itself already an aerospace manufacturer. The MRJ will be the first airliner designed and produced in Japan since the NAMC YS-11 of the 1960s, which was produced at a loss. The first flight of the MRJ was in November 2015. After several delays, deliveries are now scheduled to start by mid-2020.

三菱リージョナルジェット regional twin-engine

1. Development

1.1. Launch

The Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan

In 2003 the Japanese government started a five-year, ¥50 billion ($420 million) research program to study an indigenous regional jet for 30 to 90 passengers, led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).[1] In 2004 MHI was focused on a 2m high by 2.8m-wide, four-seat abreast cabin, seating 30 to 50 passengers, and was hoping to fly a prototype in 2007 and deliver the first aircraft in 2010.[2] In 2005 it switched to a larger 70-90 seat category.[3]

MHI launched its concept at the 47th Paris Air Show in June 2007, showing a full-scale cabin mock-up and aiming to be the first regional jet all-composite airframe, with certification targeted for 2012.[4] Mitsubishi formally offered the MRJ to airlines in October 2007 - the first Japanese airliner since the NAMC YS-11 production stopped in 1974 - after being the first airframer to select the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan offering a 12% reduction in thrust specific fuel consumption, rated at 15,000 lbf (67 kN) thrust on the 70- to 80-seat MRJ70 and 17,000 lb thrust (75.7 kN) on the 86- to 96-seat MRJ90, projecting a ¥150 billion ($1275 million) development cost.[5]

MHI officially launched the Mitsubishi Regional Jet Program on March 28, 2008 with an order for 25 aircraft (15 firm, 10 optional) from All Nippon Airways, targeting a 2013 introduction.[6] Mitsubishi is targeting a 20% share of 5,000 sales forecast in the 70-90-seat bracket over 20 years. Flight testing was scheduled for late 2011 and the $1.9-billion programme necessitates 300-400 sales to recoup its cost.[7]

1.2. Design

A model in 2010.

In September 2009 Mitsubishi unveiled extensive design changes, using aluminium instead of carbon fibre composites for the aircraft's wings and wingbox; the remaining composite parts will make up 10-15% of the airframe: the empennage.[8] The cabin height is increased by 1.5 in (4 cm) to 80.5 in (204 cm) and the fuselage height is increased to 116.5 in (296 cm), giving a rounder cabin, wider and higher than its competition.[8] The program was delayed six months with final design frozen in mid-2010, first flight delayed to the second quarter of 2012 and deliveries to early 2014.[8][9]

As the MRJ90 MTOW of 39.6 t is above the US regional carriers scope clause of 39 t, SkyWest and Trans States Holdings could convert their MRJ90 orders for 100 and 50, respectively, to the 1.4 m shorter MRJ70: 67% of the 223 firm MRJ90 orders. But the MRJ70 seats only 69 in two classes and attain the 76 seats scope close limit only in all-economy: Mitsubishi wants to increase seating within its fuselage to compete with the currently compliant Embraer E-175 and Bombardier CRJ900.[10] Maintenance intervals are 750 flight hours per A Check and 7,500 flight hours per C check.[11]

1.3. Assembly

18 October 2014 rollout ceremony.

On 15 September 2010, the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation announced that it had entered the production drawing phase and was proceeding with the manufacturing process.[12] Assembly of the first aircraft began in April 2011 with construction of the emergency escape for the cockpit.[13] In April 2012, first flight was delayed to 2013.[14] In December 2012, the MRJ90s delivery was scheduled for 2017.[15]

In early 2013, Pratt & Whitney delayed the PW1200G certification to the "latter half" of 2014, after the MRJ first flight scheduled for late 2013.[15] On 22 August 2013, Mitsubishi announced a third delay to the program, and that the first flight would take place in the second quarter of 2015 instead of end-2013, while the first delivery to launch customer ANA would take place in the second quarter of 2017 instead of 2015, due to parts delivery problems including Pratt & Whitney engines.[16] On 7 September 2013 were exhibited a prototype of the left wing and four aluminium sections : forward fuselage, front mid fuselage, aft mid fuselage and aft fuselage, to be assembled in October 2013.[17] Mitsubishi has hired foreign experts to help with relations with suppliers, ground tests, flight tests, and certification.[18]

Pictures of the first fully assembled MRJ90 were available on 26 June 2014.[19] An official rollout occurred on 18 October 2014.[20]

1.4. Testing

The flight test crew of the MRJ disembarking the aircraft after its first flight.

The maiden flight of the MRJ90 took place on 11 November 2015.[21][22] On 24 December 2015, Mitsubishi announced a one-year delay for the first delivery of the MRJ, to mid-2018.[23] The delay was attributed to insufficient wing strength and the redesign of the landing gear for better safety.[24] Much of the flight testing for the MRJ90 will take place in Moses Lake, Washington, due to the crowded airspace in Japan causing scheduling difficulties.[25] Static strength test were completed on November 1, 2016 and confirmed that the airframe could withstand 1.5 times the maximum load.[26]

In January 2017, a further two-year delay was announced, pushing the expected first delivery to mid 2020.[27] This resulted from moving the avionics bay and wiring looms and in March 2017 the flight certification program was extended from 2500 to 3000 flying hours.[28] Mitsubishi didn't confirm. Four of the five delays were caused, at least partly, by failures to document work for certification or similar failures. As a result, development cost ballooned to 350 billion yen (US$3.17 billion) and the project might never able to fully recover its costs.[29] Mitsubishi originally planned to use five flight test aircraft and two ground test aircraft but one or two additional aircraft will also be needed following this introduction of a two-year delay to mid-2020.[30]

Seattle engineering consultants Aerotec L.L.C. saw problems for avionics and its wiring certification: damage could cause single point of failure, due to fire, water flooding from a ruptured waterline or from part penetration of an engine explosion. This necessitated hardware changes in the bays, now frozen, but the electrical wiring interconnection system have to be reconfigured with hired specialist Latecoere. In June 2017, 940 hours of flight tests have been done and the four prototypes have an above 98% availability.[31] On 21 August, FTA-2 experienced a flameout 170 km (92 nmi) west of Portland International where it landed, partial damage was confirmed in the PW1200G and the test fleet was grounded until the cause is known.[32] Flight testing resumed on 6 September.[33]

By December 2017, the MRJ test campaign was half done with 1,500 flight hours and less than 1% cancelled due to technical issues. Their rate is accelerating with tests set up before the January 2017 avionics bay redesign: special runway tests, extreme environment and high altitude tests, to be completed in 2018. An additional flight test aircraft incorporating the redesign will join the campaign in the second half of 2018, focused on wiring tests like lightning and high-intensity radio-frequency.[34] Two additional aircraft (10007 and 10010), recently painted white and under structural assembly in December, will be completed and will join the flight test campaign towards the end of 2018.[35] At the end of 2017, the mid-2020 deadline seemed difficult to achieve.[36]

In January 2018, the avionics bay rearrangement and rerouted wiring were almost complete to be adequate for extreme events such as bomb explosions or water ingress underfloor.[37] Upgrades and ground tests were performed on four flight test aircraft from February to March 2018 at Moses Lake, preceding flight testing for natural icing, avionics and autopilot, performance, stability and control.[38]

In April 2018, the test fleet had logged 1,900 flight hours.[39] The flight-test fleet attained 2,000 hours in May 2018, and as most of the flight envelope was explored, the next trimester shifted to runway performance: takeoff, landing and minimum control speeds.[40] The MRJ70 test aircraft (number 8 and 9) were in final assembly as of May for expected delivery by the end of 2021, one year after the MRJ90 introduction.[10] An MRJ in All Nippon Airways livery was exhibited at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow, alongside appearances by the similar Embraer 190 E2 and larger Airbus A220.[41] In October, Bombardier sued Mitsubishi in Seattle, alleging that its ex-employees stole trade secrets to help for US certification.[42]

1.5. Production

Final Assembly Hangar in Nagoya.

A new production facility for the aircraft will be built at Komaki Airport in Nagoya, Japan , on land purchased from the government at a total cost of 60 billion yen. Production at this plant is expected to commence in fiscal year 2016, with the new plant producing 10 aircraft per month and employing 2,000 workers.[43] Mitsubishi announced in June 2013 that it would establish a quality control facility in Illinois for the sourcing of MRJ components from the United States.[44]

MHI employs new production methods such as integral wing stringers, unusually tight tolerances, shot peening of curved surfaces, and vacuum assisted resin transfer molding, intended to increase quality and thus reduce expensive fault correction to keep price competitive.[45]

On 26 April 2017, the fifth MRJ was complete in ANA livery, lacking only engines and nose cone, aircraft number six and seven had their fuselage and wings joined without the tails and the eighth, the first MRJ70, was at the assembly line start; Mitsubishi can manufacture 12 aircraft concurrently: in station one are joined fuselage sections, in station two the landing gear, wings and horizontal stabilisers are attached, in section three the major components are assembled, in outfitting takes place in section four and ground tests in station five, then the completed aircraft moves to painting.[30]

1.6. Stretch

A 100-seat stretched MRJ100 was studied in March 2011.[46] (As of June 2015) it was still under evaluation.[47]

2. Specifications

front view.
MRJ Specifications[48]
Variant MRJ70 MRJ90
Passengers 69 (9J + 60Y) to 80 81 (9J + 72Y) to 92
Seat pitch 74–79 cm (29–31 in) in Y, 91 cm (36 in) in J
Cabin 2.03 m / 6 ft 8in Height × 2.76 m / 9 ft 1in Width
Length 33.4m / 109 ft 8in 35.8m / 117 ft 5in
Wing span 29.2m / 95 ft 10in
Tail height 10.4m / 34 ft 2in
Max takeoff weight LR : 40,200 kg (88,626 lb) LR : 42,800 kg (94,358 lb)
Max landing weight 36,200 kg (79,807 lb) 38,000 kg (83,776 lb)
Max zero fuel weight 34,000 kg (74,957 lb) 36,150 kg (79,697 lb)
Operating empty weight - 26,000 kg (57,320 lb)[49]
Fuel Capacity - 12,100 L (3,200 US gal)[50]
Powerplants (2x) Pratt & Whitney PW1215G Pratt & Whitney PW1217G
Fan diameter 56 in (142 cm)[51]
Engine thrust (2x) 69.3 kN (15,600 lbf) 78.2 kN (17,600 lbf)
Range (1-class) LR : 3,740 km (2,020 nmi) LR : 3,770 km (2,040 nmi)
Typical cruise speed Mach 0.78 (447 kn; 829 km/h)
Operating ceiling 11,900 m (39,000 ft)
Takeoff field length (MTOW, SL, ISA) LR : 1,720 m (5,650 ft) LR : 1,740 m (5,710 ft)
Landing field length (MLW, Dry) 1,430 m (4,700 ft) 1,480 m (4,860 ft)

3. Customers

in All Nippon Airways livery.

The MRJ future is fragile after six years of delays, with 70% of the backlog shared by two US regional carriers bounded by scope clauses: the MRJ90 is too heavy and the smaller MRJ70 accommodates seven seats less than the 76 permitted.[52] Following five postponements, and having lost ten percent of the MRJ's order book following the acquisition of Eastern Air Lines by Swift Air, Mitsubishi Aircraft closed its books at the end of March 2018 with a negative net worth of $979 million.[41]

3.1. Orders

All Nippon Airways was the first customer, with an order for 15 MRJ 90s and an option for 10 more.[53]

At the July 2012 Farnborough Airshow, SkyWest agreed to buy 100 MRJ90s, to be delivered between 2017 and 2020. The deal is worth $4.2bn at list prices. During the 2013 Regional Airlines Association conference, held in Montreal , Canada, Mitsubishi announced that ANI Group Holdings, which firmed a MoU for 5 MRJ aircraft in June 2011, cancelled the deal, without giving further details.[54]

3.2. Potential orders

In March 2008, and again in October 2008, Sankei Shimbun and Fuji Sankei Business I reported that the government of Japan would buy ten MRJs to serve as short-haul and small-field VIP transports, supplementing the existing Japanese Air Force One Boeing 747 aircraft.[55][56] The government was still considering this option as of July 2013, with MRJs possibly supplementing new Boeing 777 long-haul VIP transports, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.[57]

On 20 July 2016, one of the officials at Iran's ministry of transportation announced Iran is buying 25 ATR airplanes for Iran Aseman Airlines and for further purchases Mitsubishi has showed interest in offering 20 MRJ planes.[58]

On 21 May 2017, Iran canceled its plans to buy Mitsubishi's Regional Jet (MRJ) from the Japanese company. Inability to set a delivery timeline for ordered aircraft and lack of testing were cited as their main reasons.[59]


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