Earlier this month, Japan’s Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), the country’s first foray into commercial aviation in more than 50 years, completed its first flight. After years of delays, the MRJ completed a 1.5-hour flight from Nagoya Airport to officially start the test program for Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation’s 100-seat regional jet.
“The MRJ successfully took to the sky today thanks to ongoing cooperation and support from all members involved,” said Hiromichi Morimoto, President, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. “We will make our utmost efforts towards type certificate acquisition, committing all our resources to develop and produce the finest regional jet aircraft to enter commercial service in 2017.”
According to a November 11 press release from Mitsubishi, the flight confirmed the jet’s basic characteristics and functionality in ascent, descent and turning. According to Mitsubishi, the overall structure of the plane held up well.
“Operational performance of the MRJ was far better than expected. We had a significantly comfortable flight,” said Pilot Yasumura, the captain of the flight.
Composites comprise roughly 10-15 percent of the jet, mainly around the tail. According to Mitsubishi, the carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) made with dry fabric and a resin transfer molding (RTM) process.
From a business standpoint, Japan’s entry into the large passenger jet market now means having to compete with Airbus and Boeing, both of whom rely on composites to comprise a significant percentage of their aircraft. According to a recent Op-Ed in the Japan Times, the current small size of the nation’s aviation industry means that there is great room for growth.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. must carry out more test flights and then pass the transport ministry’s certification process before the first delivery of the aircraft can take place in April-June 2017.