Mitsubishi takes new MRJ90 from Moses Lake to Paris Air Show

Oct 10, 2017

PARIS — Mitsubishi Aircraft’s new regional jet, the MRJ90, landed Thursday at Le Bourget airport for the Paris Air Show, which begins Monday.

Development delays have dogged the sleek jetliner’s progress. However, Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani said he is pushing to deliver the first airplane in 2019, rather than 2020, Japanese news mediareported Wednesday.

In January, the company announced its fifth delay, pushing first delivery from mid-2018 to mid-2020.

In Paris, Mitsubishi will show the MRJ program’s third test aircraft, which is painted in the livery of launch customer All Nippon Airways. The plane left Moses Lake on Tuesday, with stops along the way in Winnipeg and Goose Bay, Canada, and Keflavik, Iceland. It is the first MRJ to visit Europe. Mitsubishi is conducting flight testing in Washington rather than Japan, where the test schedule would be squeezed by crowded airspace and other constraints.

“I can’t think of a finer stage on which to present this highly anticipated next-generation aircraft,” Mitsubishi Heavy Industries president and CEO Shunichi Miyanaga said in a news release. “The European debut of the aircraft is another sign of the progress of this program.”
The MRJ recently earned type certification for its PW1200G geared turbofan engine. That follows several test milestones in recent months, including static strength, initial natural icing, cold and hot soak, high speed flutter and flight load survey tests.

Those recent accomplishments are a marked change from the delays that have dogged the MRJ, Japan’s first domestically developed jetliner.

Boeing is flying its 737 MAX 9 and 787-10 to the show. It is widely expected to officially launch its 737 MAX 10 and discuss a 797, which would fit between its 737 and the larger 787.

The MAX 10 could give Boeing an edge in the perennial orders fight with its European rival, Airbus. The company did a soft launch in March and has been in serious talks with potential customers.

Most analysts expect the order tally to be lower than in years past. Airplane makers typically announce about 15 percent of their annual orders at the biennial show, according to Ken Herbert, who tracks the aerospace industry for Canaccord Genuity.

This year, he expects about 200 orders. Any activity for twin-aisle airplanes or Bombardier would be a positive addition, he said in a June 8 research note.

Richard Safran at Buckingham Research Group expects about 400 commercial orders, with as many as 200 for the MAX 10.

Other aircraft making appearances include Lockheed Martin’s F-35A, Airbus’ A321neo and A350-1000, Antonov AN-132D, and Embraer’s E195-E2 and KC-390. Aviation Week has an online gallery of aircraft making Paris Air Show debuts.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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