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Mitsubishi Aircraft delays jet again due to safety issues

Keywords: Tags  aerospace, Mitsubishi Aircraft, MRJ, Mitsubishi, Toyota, regional jet, program delay, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. said it will delay the introduction of its regional jet by more than a year due to safety considerations.

The maiden flight of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Japan’s first commercial aircraft in half a century, is now slated for the second quarter of 2015, with initial deliveries in the second quarter of 2017, at least two years later than the plane’s original delivery date. It is the program’s third delay.

Nagoya, Japan-based Mitsubishi Aircraft, citing issues in aligning its system and component specifications with the plane’s safety certification, said the process has "taken greater resources than anticipated, which in turn impacted component deliveries and aircraft fabrication."

The MRJ, which will carry between 70 and 90 passengers, has about 165 orders. Non-metallic composites were initially estimated to account for 28 percent of the plane’s weight, with aluminum at 58 percent and titanium at 9 percent. But a design change in 2009, which included the substitution of an aluminum wing box for a composite box, raised aluminum’s share to 80 percent and lowered composites to around 10 percent, with titanium remaining roughly level at 10 percent.

The company said that assembly of the initial test airframe is under way in preparation for ground and flight tests.

Mitsubishi Aircraft’s owners include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Sumitomo Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. The last all-Japanese commercial aircraft was developed in 1965.

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