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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mitsubishi MRJ Passenger Jet Delayed Again

I’ve heard of delays to promised manufacturing builds before… but seven years late?

That is what delays to Japan first ever commercial jetliner from Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation means to customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) - a fifth delay and push-back of a delivery date of the twin-engine Mitsubishi Regional Jet - the MRJ (三菱リージョナルジェット).

I guess it’s not like the old days when Japanese aircraft manufacturers were churning out aircraft during WWII—this time, there are more regulations that have to be observed.

The old WWII Mitsubishi Zero plane, for example was a lightweight and very fast aircraft that buzzed Allied competition for awhile - the only problem being that in order to achieve the light weight and incredible speed, there was less armor on the plane - meaning it was easy to destroy if hit.

That’s not the issue with the MRJ, though. This time Mitsubishi says it’s “due to revisions of certain systems and electrical configurations on the aircraft” it needs to meet proper certification requirements for regulatory approvals.

See? Told ya… I hadn’t even read that far ahead before I wrote that bit about regulations (it spoils the rawness of how I choose to write this blog).

Welcome Japan to the fantastic world of building your own aircraft!

Japan hasn’t tried to build it’s own airplane since 1965 - the NAMC YS-11 built by the Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. It lost money.

So… does it count as a Japanese-built airplane if the 92-passenger jet has engines made by the American company Pratt & Whitney?

I don’t think so…

These engines (and Japanese-aircraft design) help deliver a 20 per cent fuel savings over other similar type aircraft - which is great!

But… with 230 orders for the MRJ, can it afford yet another delay to production - especially when it’s trying to compete against Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer companies - both of whom are in the business of being leaders in the construction of passenger jet aircraft with 100 seats or fewer?

It’s not just Japanese airlines (ANA) that have orders in for delivery of the MRJ - no… Sky West Airlines, Trans States Holdings and Eastern Air Lines all U.S. regional airlines want their airplanes and want them now.

But… let’s not step on Mitsubishi too much… in this day and age, every single aircraft builder has experienced the embarrassment of delays… and to tell the truth, I know I’d rather fly in an airplane that was built right the first time it had real paying passengers in it.

There are currently four test MRJ aircraft flying around - it made its first flight back on November 11, 2015.

I first wrote about the jet back in April of 2013 HERE, where you can click and see schematics of the airplane, or HERE where in October of 2014 I offered up specifications of the 78-seat and 92-seat versions.

So, okay Mitsubishi - get it right. Just try and avoid any further delays. Heck, NASA almost made it to the moon in less time... or did they?  Let's find out.

I believe it was on May 25, 1961that JFK (U.S. President John F. Kennedy) promised the U.S. Congress that America would safely land astronauts on the Moon before the end of the decade. (Actually, he implied a safe trip.) Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

So… how long has the Mitsubishi MRJ been in the works exactly?

Well… in 2003, Japan’s federal government initiated a plan to have a Japan-built regional jet constructed, with Mitsubishi in the lead… something that would hold between 30-50 passengers… but in 2005 it opted to a design that could seat 70-90 passengers…

At the 47th Paris Air Show in June of 2007, Mitsubishi showed off a full-scale mock-up of the cabin… targeting certification by 2012…

Mitsubishi formerly began to offer the MRJ for sale to airlines in October of 2007.

So… if we look at the actual “For Sale” date of October 2007… we are at nine years and about three months.

For comparison… when JFK made his proud boast, it took NASA eight years and two months.

Ergo, it took NASA less time to get two men on the moon (three to it) than for Mitsubishi to get the first MRJ passenger jet to a customer.

… just sayin’…

Tora, Tora, Tora, 
Andrew Joseph

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