It has been some time since the island nation of Japan has introduced a wholly indigenously-designed and manufactured jet into market but all that is set to change with the "Mitsubishi Regional Jet" (MRJ) unveiled in 2014 and intended to compete with regional stalwarts from Brazil and elsewhere. The MRJ marks the first Japanese jet airliner to be introduced since 1965 when the prop-driven NAMC YS-11 arrived. Despite its promising design, the YS-11 failed to make a market impact globally and survived in just 182 examples. First flight for the new MRJ is slated for sometime in 2015 with official introduction of the series scheduled for 2017. Several operators have already committed to the product including All Nippon Airways and Air Mandalay as well several American groups. Total orders as of October 2014 reflect some 223 examples with an option for a further 184 airframes.
Design of the MRJ has been handled by Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (MAC) with manufacture to take place under the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) brand label at the cost of $42 million USD per unit.
Much care has been taken to produce an end-product that offers weight savings and cost reductions through use of composites (this making up roughly 15%of the aircraft). Efficiency will be gained through an aerodynamically refined, high-performance wing and fuselage that includes winglets at the tips. Maneuverability (Fly-by-Wire) and safety will be aided through an all-modern glass cockpit (the Rockwell Collins "Pro Line Fusion" series) that showcases four large LCDs and traditional control columns (as opposed to flight sticks). Noise reduction practices will be implemented throughout the airframe for maximum passenger comfort. Internal seating will feature a single-aisle, two-row seating (four abreast) approach with 18" of clearance between the inner seats and overhead storage for roller bags or equivalent passenger cargo.
The general design of the MRJ is highly orthodox by modern standards and includes a sharply-formed nose cone with large windscreens featured at the cockpit. The fuselage is expectedly tubular in its shape to which the wing mainplanes are mounted under the airframe. Each wing is well-swept rearwards, capped by winglets at their ends, and manage an underslung engine nacelle in a twin-engine configuration for the jet. The tail unit is traditional in its arrangement with a single vertical tail fin and upward-cranked horizontal tailplanes.
A model of the proposed MRJ was exhibited back in 2007 at the Paris Air Show to which marketing then began securing interest from potential buyers. Delays inevitably pushed project milestones back by years before the aircraft was finally unveiled in October of 2014 for public consumption in Nagoya, Japan.
The MRJ is being marketed through two distinct airframe models encompassing six total proposed marks. The MRJ70 and the MRJ90 are the two available types with the latter seeing a fuselage extended by 7.8 feet. Subvariants of the MRJ70 will be the MRJ70STD (Standard), MRJ70ER (Extended Range), and MRJ70LR (Long Range). These will all be largely the same aircraft save for enhanced capabilities between the three - primarily changes to operational reach and Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW). Total passenger capacity of the MRJ70 is slated to be 78. The MRJ90STD, MRJ90ER, and MRJ90LR will follow suit though with their longer fuselages increasing their internal volume. Ranges and MTOWs also vary between these subvariants. Total passenger capacity of the MRJ90 is slated to be 92.
All MRJ aircraft will be powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW1217G engines promising environmental benefits (noise reduction), enhanced safety features, peak performance, and fuel efficiency.
November 2015 - On November 11th, 2015, the Mitsubishi MRJ completed its first flight - this action covering 1.5 hours in the air and originating from Nagoya Airport. Flight tests are expected to continue - in the United States - through 2016.
May 2016 - A second test-flight of an MRJ aircraft has been recorded, this occurring on May 31st, 2016.
January 2017 - Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation announced that deliveries of its MRJ (to launch customer All Nippon Airways) will be delayed into mid-2020.
May 2018 - Mitsubishi Aircraft has approved work on the upcoming MRJ70 series jet, the smaller counterpart of the MRJ90. The current MRJ90 test fleet has completed about 2,000 flying hours thus far, clearing the path for development of the MRJ70 model.
July 2018 - The MRJ is scheduled to be demonstrated at Farnborough 2018.
July 2018 - A third flyable prototype has been brought to Farnborough 2018. July 16th, 2018 is when the aircraft made its public flying debut.
November 2018 - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries revealed plans to increase its stake in Mitsubishi Aircraft to help the delayed MRJ program along.
Japan (planned); Myanmar (planned); United States (planned)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in roles serving the business aviation market, primarily VIP and regional travel.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
109.6 ft (33.40 m)
95.8 ft (29.20 m)
34.4 ft (10.50 m)
48,502 lb (22,000 kg)
88,185 lb (40,000 kg)
+39,683 lb (+18,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) production variant)
2 x Pratt & Whitney PW1217G turbofan engines developing between 15,600lbf to 17,600lbf of thrust.
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