2008: Milestone for the Mitsubishi MRJ

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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ rollout of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) on Oct. 18 may have occurred later than planned, but it marked a major milestone in Japan’s efforts to get back into the commercial airliner business. Since World War II, just one Japanese passenger aircraft has entered service, the YS-11 turboprop. Mitsubishi sold 161 of those but sustained $600 million in losses before terminating production in 1974.

Thus, the MRJ’s development is a symbol of national pride. Six years ago, my colleague Mike Mecham and I traveled to Tokyo as the company was getting ready to launch development of the new jet. As we noted in an article published on March 17, 2008, Mitsubishi executives were confident that the jet’s cutting-edge technology –- including Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) engines -– would give it a leg up on competitors.

Since then, Embraer has responded by launching an ambitious upgrade of its E Jet regional jets, including plans to equip them with GTF engines. Aviation Week’s Bradley Perrett, who attended the rollout and writes about it in Aviation Week’s Oct. 27 cover story, notes that efficiency and price will be the key to sales.

The first MRJ delivery is now expected in the second quarter of 2017, about four years behind the schedule that program officials laid out for Mike and me back in 2008. But make no mistake, the MRJ is for real.

► Read the report in the March 17, 2008 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology:

Big Ambitions

► Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history, including viewpoints from the industry's most iconic names and stories that have helped change the shape of the industry.

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