Mitsubishi adding two MRJ90s to flight test fleet

By Bryan Corliss

April 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi is close to completing two additional MRJ90s that should join the company’s flight test fleet this summer.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. President Hisakazu Mizutani also reported last week that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has granted the program a letter of authorization, which is a milestone toward getting a final type certificate allowing the plane to enter service.

Mizutani spoke in Nagoya, Japan, on April 16, delivering Mitsubishi’s regular quarterly update on the program’s progress.


Flight test update

The MRJ90 program has completed 2,600 hours of flight testing, he told reporters during the briefing.

Crosswind testing is underway, he said. The company also is running tests on MRJ90s at the U.S. Air Force’s McKinley Climatic Lab at Eglin Air Force Base, which is essentially a climate-controlled pressurized hangar that can simulate altitudes as high as 80,000 feet, with temperatures that can range from 80 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) to 170 degrees.

Both Boeing and Airbus have used the lab in recent decades, for testing of the 787 and A350.

New planes key for 2019 plans

Getting the two additional planes finished and flying is one of the program’s major goals for the coming year, Mizutani said in the briefing.

The two additional aircraft for the flight test fleet are “in the final stage,” he said, and the company plans to have them deployed to its test center in Moses Lake (WA), during the second quarter of its 2019 fiscal year, which started on April 1.  

With those planes joining the flight test fleet, Mizutani said the company will focus on working to get the type certificate completed, while also completing pilot training – particularly for launch customer All Nippon Airways.

The Japan Civil Aviation Board is leading the certification process, working with the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency.

The FAA in March granted Mitsubishi a Letter of Authorization, which allows FAA personnel to be aboard MRJ90s during test flights, to support certification. FAA pilots already have taken part in two familiarization flights aboard the MRJ90, the company said.

Mizutani said he anticipates getting type certification from the three agencies more-or-less simultaneously, although “there might be a time lag due to the administration matter.”

Paris Air Show

Mizutani said the company’s next MRJ program update will come at the Paris air show in June.

The company could announce its plans for a 70-seat MRJ70 at Paris, spokesman Jeff Dronen said.

“We received a lot of very positive feedback and we are evaluating the options,” Dronen said. Since Mitsubishi Aircraft is part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the parent company will be involved in the decision about whether to launch the MRJ70.

Mitsubishi will not be bringing one of its larger MRJ90s to Paris this year, Dronen said. “The priority for our flight test aircraft is certification testing,” he said. Given that, “no aircraft has been currently scheduled to fly at the Paris Air Show.”

Other news

  • Mizutani said his company continues to see demand for the MRJ, both as a replacement as airlines retire older regional jets and also to meet new market demand. However, he did not announce any new orders. The last announced order came in July 2016, when Swedish lessor Rockton AB said it would take 10.  Mitsubishi has orders for 213 MRJ90s with one buyer – U.S. regional airline operator SkyWest – accounting for 100 of those.
  • Mizutani said he doesn’t anticipate any problems with the FAA resulting from Boeing’s 737 MAX woes, noting that the agency has continued to work on MRJ certification even as it’s come under fire for how the 737 MAX was certified. “The system of Boeing 737 MAX is different from the MRJ’s system,” he said. “We don’t see this will directly impact to the MRJ’s design, if any technical cause about Boeing 737 MAX will be found out.”
  • The company has established a U.S. head office in Renton (WA) – which is home to Boeing’s 737 program – and plans a grand opening for May 10.

8 Comments on “Mitsubishi adding two MRJ90s to flight test fleet

  1. The system of Boeing 737 MAX is different from the MRJ’s system
    That’s putting it mildly, it’s like comparing a 1960s Trabant (737)with a modern Ford (MRJ).
    The Trabant was quite modern for it’s time, composite body, front wheel drive etc while the MRJ is a full FBW…which must have been a challenge for Misubishi but likely they used their partner Kawasaki who had 2 large military aircraft with FBW etc

  2. If there is any market left for smaller RJs then it looks like the MRJ could be the last man standing in the sector. It will be competing against some pretty old offerings. Couple that with the undying affection this aircraft has in Mitsubishi and Japan and it looks like it will eventually be a player. It deserves it for the racy balanced looks alone.

    • MRJ70 will be the only new aircraft with new generation engines that meets scope clause. If scope clause doesn’t change, it seems like the obvious successor.

  3. Would it be fairer to say the McKinley Climatic Laboratory includes a separate (and much smaller) chamber for the altitude testing (4.1 m x 2.9 m x 2.1 m) ? The way it’s said, one could think you could test a full-size airliner for altitude.

  4. Mitsubishi did not have a viable plan of bringing the plane to market. Years of delays has left a bad taste in the minds of many and in the meantime, Embraer is moving along quickly with the E series. Even the CRJ-900 is snagging a few orders.
    I don’t see many or any MRJ frames being ordered.

    • The MRJ seems to offer a cabin similar width to E jets but at lower weights than the equivalent E series. ( 2.76m MRJ to 2.74. The CRJ is 2.57m)

      MTOW MRJ70 ( standard) 36,850lb (LR) 40,200lb [MRJ90 39,600lb]

      E2-175 MTOW is 44,800lbs.

      There is a huge market in scope compliant planes in US as no E2 jets comply.

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