By Bryan Corliss
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.”