For those of you who were not aware, Mitsubishi's aviation division was best known for its design and manufacture of the Zero, a WWII fighter craft that was the scourge of the skies when it first debuted, as a quick killer with little shielding.
This new MRJ passenger jet however - the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, is a fuel-efficient, next-generation aircraft that the company hopes will provide better passenger comfort at a low operating cost - which, if I may be so bold is what every manufacturer says nowadays.
The MRJ was built alongside Boeing, and will begin deliveries to customers in 2017.
Japan last built a commercial aircraft in 1962 - the YS-11 turboprop, that was more zero than the Zero, being discontinued a mere 10 years later.
According to Mitsubishi, the MRJ has a state-of-the-art aerodynamic design, and a new type of engine that will cut fuel consumption, noise and emissions, helping airlines enhance competitiveness and profitability in the future.
How did Japan come to not being a participant in the aviation industry after producing massive amounts of planes during WWII?
Well, Japan was banned from building aircraft following its WWII surrender by the Allies - specifically the U.S., who created a new Constitution for Japan in the ensuing years.
With financial help from the U.S. and other allies, Japan rebuilt its smashed industrial sector - perhaps first becoming famous for its development of electronics... such as radios, TVs, cars, and the in the 1980s personal entertainment devices such as Walkman's and more.
In aviation, Japan satisfied its curiosity in the 1950s by being allowed to perform repair work for the US military, before producing licensed production of American-developed aircraft for its own Japanese Self-Defence Force (Jieitai)... not army. Of course, Japanese firms have also been a long-time supplier of parts to Boeing.
The Mitsubishi MRJ will (initially) be available as short- to medium-haul jet planes in both a 78- and 92-seat version - but with three versions of each, for a total of six different MRJ planes:
78-seat versions: MRJ 70STD; MRJ 70ER; MRJ 70LR
92-seat versions: MRJ 90STD; MRJ 90ER; MRJ 90LR
What's the difference? Let's look at the similarities first.
BOTH 70 and 90 versions:
Cabin Height: 2.03 meters (80 inches)
Cabin Width: 2.76 meters (108.5 inches)
Motors: Pratt & Whitney PW1217G - x2
Tail Height 10.5 meters (34.4-meters)
Wing-span: 29.2 meters (95.9 feet)
Cruising Speed: Mach 0.78 (515 mph, 828 kph);
Maximum: Mach 0.82 (563 mph, 906 kph)
Length: 33.4 meters (109.6-feet);
Maximum Landing Weight: 36,200 kilograms (79,807-lb)
Empty Weight: 21,700 kilograms (47,800-lb)
Landing Field Requirement (dry): 1,430 meters (4,700 feet)
Engine Thrust: 69.3 kN (15,600 lbf) × 2
Length: 35.8 meters (117.4 feet);
Maximum Landing Weight: 38,000 kilograms (83,776-lb); Empty Weight: 22,600 kilograms (49,800-lb)
Landing Field Requirement (dry): 1,480 meters (4,860 feet)
Engine Thrust: 78.2 kN (17,600 lbf) × 2
Specific Variation Differences:
MRJ 70STD Max takeoff weight: 36,850 kilograms (81,240 lb)
Max range: 1,530 km (820 nautical miles)
Takeoff field length: 1,450 meters (4,760 ft)
Max takeoff weight: 38,995 kilograms (85,969 lb)
Max range: 2,730 km (1470 nautical miles)
Takeoff field length: 1,620 meters (5,320 ft)
Max takeoff weight: 40,200 kilograms (88,626 lb)
Max range: 3,380 km (1820 nautical miles)
Takeoff field length: 1,720 meters (5,650 ft)
Max takeoff weight: 39,600 kilograms (87,303 lb)
Max range: 1,670 km (900 nautical miles)
Takeoff field length: 1,490 meters (4,890 ft)
Max takeoff weight: 40,995 kilograms (90,378 lb)
Max range: 2,400 km (1,290 nautical miles)
Takeoff field length: 1,600 meters (5,250 ft)
Max takeoff weight: 42,800 kilograms (94,358 lb)
Max range: 3,310 km (1,780 nautical miles)
Takeoff field length: 1,740 meters (5,710 ft).
So... basically, not every MRJ is considered equal.
Backed with monies from the Japanese government and a host of other Japanese firms like Toyota, the development costs alone total around ¥180-billion (US $1.7-billion). That's a lot of money... and I suppose most of the money will be made up through sales or through parts replacement and maintenance.
Each plane has a list price of around $40-million, and will only be used for domestic flights - not anything international.
Right now, there are orders for 375 of the Mitsubishi MRJ jets, including All Nippon Airways (ANA), and the U.S.-based Trans States Holdings, and SkyWest.
Not yet finalized, the Japan Airlines (JAL) is planning to order 32 of the MRJs planes
Japan's car maker Honda is also entered into the aviation business, with a business-class jet, with the first plane to be delivered sometimes in 2015.I've written about the Honda Jet HERE.