MHI announces regional jet program

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has launched the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), a 70- to 90-seat craft that will use composites on the wings and vertical fins. Service target is 2013.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI, Tokyo, Japan) on March 28 officially launched the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), a next-generation regional jetliner. Beginning April 1, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. (tentative name), a new company established by MHI to conduct MRJ business, will accelerate the MRJ’s development and further strengthen sales activities to potential customers worldwide. The effort marks Japan’s first company to manufacture and market original passenger jetliners.

Mitsubishi Aircraft will be responsible for various key activities in the MRJ project, including design, acquisition of type certification (T/C), procurement, sales and customer support. MHI’s Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works will manufacture the prototype aircraft and production models; it will also be in charge of the MRJ’s flight testing.

Mitsubishi Aircraft was established as a wholly owned subsidiary of MHI capitalized at ¥3 billion (common stock and capital reserve), with plans calling for an increase up to ¥100 billion in line with business operations development. MHI plans to furnish roughly two-thirds of the requisite capital, and to secure the remaining equity investment it has approached companies including Toyota Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Corp. and the Development Bank of Japan. Mitsubishi Aircraft, headquartered in Nagoya, is to start with approximately 200 employees. Nobuo Toda, Director and Senior Vice President at MHI, has been named its first president.

The MRJ is a 70–90 seat class regional jet with what MHI calls cutting-edge technology that will enable dual achievement of top-class operational economy and outstanding cabin comfort. The MRJ, says MHI, will be the first regional jet to adopt composite materials for its wings and vertical fins on significant scale. In combination with new engines and an advanced aerodynamic design, the aircraft is being planned to reduce fuel consumption substantially and to contribute greatly to enhanced competitiveness and lower operating costs for the airline companies.

Since deciding on authorization to offer the MRJ in October 2007, MHI has been conducting full-scale marketing activities worldwide. Based on positive responses from potential customers, including an order for 25 aircraft (15 firm, 10 optional) from All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd., MHI has now decided to formally launch the MRJ program, targeting the aircraft’s entry into service in 2013. MHI, by getting the country’s domestic passenger jet business, which is seen to have high growth potential, off the ground with sales expansion of the MRJ overseas – a feat enabled by its having secured cooperation from entities including trading houses and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) – aims to contribute to this ongoing development of Japan’s industries.

Among the major partners in the MRJ program, Pratt & Whitney will supply its most advanced, highly efficient Geared Turbofan (GTF) engines. Other major companies participating are: Parker Aerospace, to supply the aircraft’s hydraulic system; Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., furnishing various systems, including electrical power, air management and auxiliary power units; Rockwell Collins, providing the flight control computers and avionics; Nabtesco Corp., to furnish the flight control actuators; and Sumitomo Precision Products Co. Ltd., supplying the landing gear.