Mitsubishi confident of MRJ programme despite E-Jet revamp

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Corrected order backlog

Mitsubishi Aircraft is confident that its MRJ regional jet will stay ahead of the curve even as Embraer revamps its E-Jet.

The Brazilian airframer announced in January that it will switch engine suppliers, design two new sets of wings and integrate a closed-loop fly-by-wire system as it moves towards launching a second generation E-Jet later this year.

Embraer has picked Pratt & Whitney's PW1700G and PW1900G geared turbofans (GTF) for the next version of the E-170 and E-190 aircraft respectively. The MRJ will be powered by the PW1200G GTF.

"We're confident that the newly developed MRJ will have a lot of technological advantages, and is designed to extract the best GTF engine performance against the E-Jet G2 even if Embraer revamps their existing E-Jet system," says Mitsubishi's vice president of business planning Hank Iwasa.

He adds that the advantage of the MRJ is not only based on the GTF engine, but that the aircraft also incorporates next generation engineering technology and an aerodynamic design that "sets it apart from the competitors".

Iwasa would not be drawn into discussion on the possible impact of Embraer's next generation E-Jet on the MRJ programme, saying that the competitor aircraft has yet to be launched.

He adds that sub-assembly of the MRJ flight test aircraft is ongoing, and that Mitsubishi would move towards manufacturing and getting type certification next.

The target for first flight is being kept at between October and December, says Iwasa.

The MRJ was originally expected to enter flight testing in late 2011, but that was delayed to the second quarter of 2012 and again, to late 2013.

Mitsubishi has a backlog for 165 firm orders with 160 options.