Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. is progressing with the build of All Nippon Airlines' (ANA) first MRJ90 and is considering launch timings for the MRJ100X.
"We finished the wing-body join [last month] for ANA's first aircraft in our new final assembly hangar," Mitsubishi head of strategic marketing, sales and marketing Hideyuki Kamiya said, speaking at the European Regions Airline Association General Assembly in Madrid.
The MRJ family will consist of the 76-seat MRJ70, the 88-seat MRJ90 and the planned MRJ100X. Of these, the MRJ90 will enter service --albeit heavily delayed -- in mid-2018, followed by the MRJ70 roughly a year later. The MRJ100X is yet to be launched.
"We know the MRJ100X will be very important for the market," Kamiya said. "We are waiting for good timing to launch the MRJ100. We are taking it very seriously." Mitsubishi is aiming for the MRJ100X to have the "best economics in the 100-seat market."
However, the MRJ program is heavily delayed. Mitsubishi insists the first MRJ90 is still scheduled for delivery in mid-2018, although ANA has been warned of the potential for further technical delays.
The first, second and fourth MRJ90 test aircraft are now flying. Aircraft number three is "very close" to its first flight and five will fly this winter.
Mitsubishi is planning to do the majority of its flight certification hours in the U.S., including rejected takeoffs and extreme conditions, such as hot and high operations. The first aircraft is already there and will soon be joined by the rest of the fleet, excluding aircraft number five that will be equipped with a cabin.
Meanwhile, the first flight test MRJ70 is progressing. Mitsubishi began manufacturing the parts for the aircraft in 2015 and the MRJ70 will fly for the first time in 2017.
"We will have two flight test aircraft for the MRJ70. Most of the characteristics are the same as the MRJ90 -- the difference is just in the length of the fuselage -- so fewer flight tests will be required. We expect one year's separation for entry into service between the MRJ70 and the MRJ90."
The program has 233 firm orders to date, spanning seven customers, with options and purchase rights on a further 194. Mitsubishi has also signed a letter of intent with Swedish lessor Rockton Aviation covering 10 firm aircraft and 10 options that are not included in the order total.
Mitsubishi sees a demand for 5,137 regional jets over the next 20 years. North America makes up 36% of this, followed by Europe with 16%. Asia Pacific and China each represent 12%, Latin America 8%, Africa 7%, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 5%, and Middle East 4%.