Mitsubishi Regional Jet will feature aluminum wingbox

The decision is notable because Mitsubishi produces a composites wingbox for The Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) announced in early September that it has finalized configuration of its forthcoming Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) and that it will feature an aluminum — not composite — wingbox. The decision is notable because Mitsubishi produces a composites wingbox for The Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner.

In a newsletter announcing the configuration finalization, Mitsubishi says an aluminum wingbox "will make it easier to manufacture the optimal wing structure. Easier optimization means enhanced competitiveness across the MRJ family." The company adds, "The aluminum wingbox will allow for a shorter lead-time to make structural changes, and with an aluminum wingbox, the wings can be optimized to match the attributes of each member of the MRJ airplane family. This will maximize the performance of all MRJ models, including the possible stretch version."

Mitsubishi also says it is considering adding a stretch version of the MRJ to the MRJ family. While the MRJ90, the 92-seat jet, and the MRJ70, the 78-seat version, have both been launched, a 100-seat version has been proposed, contingent on sufficient market demand to trigger a full-scale launch of the program.

Because of these changes, the MRJ production schedule has been adjusted, with the first flight to take place second quarter 2012, and the first delivery to take place first quarter 2014.