Mitsubishi aims to ramp up MRJ's planned production rate

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Mitsubishi Aircraft is studying how it can ramp up the planned production rate of its regional jets to meet the delivery demands of its customers.

The airframer is planning for an initial production of five aircraft monthly, after it delivers its first aircraft in the summer of 2015, says Hiroki Sakurai, deputy general manager of public relations.

"Five aircraft delivery per month is our initial plan, however, the market demand is far beyond our expectation. For the aircraft production ramp up, we're still considering how to strengthen the production line to increase our production rate," he adds.

The Japanese airframer calculates that it needs to produce 10 aircraft monthly in order to meet demands.

Mitsubishi will assembly its MRJ70 and MRJ90 aircraft at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' Komaki South plant near the Nagoya Komaki airport.

The airframer had previously told Flightglobal that it is studying the feasibility of setting up a second assembly line or factory to ramp up production rates to meet expected future demands. The facility may be located overseas and the USA is an option.

If a second line proves necessary, however, it will only be set up after the aircraft receives type certification, which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2015.

Sakurai says the plans however have not been firmed, and that all attention is now placed on making sure that the aircraft meets its first flight target in the fourth quarter of 2013, and the smooth set up of its first production line.

Parts production for the test aircraft have been ongoing and assembly of the first test aircraft "is to start soon". Mitsubishi is also coordinating with the Japan civil aviation bureau, the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency on type certification.

"This preparation for type certification processes have become very active," adds Sakurai.

"Intensive sales campaigns are ongoing, and as we secure numbers, we will need to be able to increase the production capacity to meet the customers' demands."

The MRJ programme received a major boost last week when US-based SkyWest Airlines firmed an agreement for 100 MRJ90s, and an option for an additional 100 of the aircraft type.

These aircraft are scheduled to be delivered starting 2017. Those on option, if firmed, could be delivered from 2021.

The deal takes Mitsubishi's backlog to 170 firm orders with 160 options.