Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Japan's first domestically developed regional aircraft, successfully completed its maiden test flight Wednesday morning from Nagoya airport, about 350 km west of the capital Tokyo.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (MAC), a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI), announced yesterday that the first flight of the regional jet is scheduled to take place this morning, after a series of delays that spanned over five years.
The latest one scheduled for the end of October was postponed due to rudder pedal repair.
The gray, white plane with red, blue and gold lines along the body and the tail, and marked MRJ on the tail, took off from the airport runway to an almost clear sky, in the presence of reporters, businessmen and plane lovers for about an hour flight before its return.
The 70 to 90-seat aircraft, designed for short-haul routes, boasts of a game-changing engine, state-of-the-art design which will significantly reduce fuel consumption, noise and emission and provide better comfort to passengers.
The aircraft will compete with regional jets produced by Brazil's Embraer SA and Canada's Bombardier Inc.
The demand for the 70 to 90-seat class jets is estimated to be over 5,000 units for the next 20 years due to ''up sizing'' from 50-seat class to work in unison with mainline jets in the future , according to Mitsubishi.
Some consultants believe the Japanese manufacturer will capture 27-per cent of that market in unit and value terms.
MAC is majority owned by Mitsubishi Group with a combined stake of 76-per cent, auto giant Toyota Corp holding 10 per cent, Sumitomo Corp 5 per cent, and Mitsui & Co Ltd 5 per cent and others.
The twin-engine jet is powered by US aerospace giant Pratt & Whitney's advanced PW1200G engines, which are designed for increased efficiency resulting in reduced airfoil count, engine weight and operating cost.
The standard versions of the MRJ90 will have a range of 2,120 km, while the lower capacity MRJ70 will cover 1,880 km. Both will have a maximum speed of around 960 km per hour.
The price tag is expected to be around $47.3 million and $46.3 million respectively.
Mitsubishi's first major customer is All Nippon Airways Co, which has ordered 15 aircraft with option for additional 10. The delivery is expected to begin in 2017.
In total, the company has firm orders for 223 airplanes with options for 184 more and the customers include US firms Trans States Holdings, Sky West Inc and Eastern Air Lines Group Inc, Myanmar's Air Mandalay Ltd and Japan Airlines Co.