Modified jet 'Hisho' to support Mitsubishi Regional Jet tests

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will use a newly acquired Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign named "Hisho" as a flying testbed for technologies related to the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ).

The Hisho aircraft will operate "dozens of flights" in support of the MRJ programme, JAXA says in an email to Flightglobal. The majority of the flights will be performed this year.

The aircraft is equipped with a range of instruments and sensors to monitor and record data about aircraft speed, altitude, attitude, aircraft position, control surface deflection and engines.

It is capable of transmitting and receiving data from a ground station, while its cabin has hard points where the test equipment can be mounted and dis-mounted as needed.

JAXA adds that it already operates two other test aircraft: the "Mupal-Alpha", a Dornier 228-202 turboprop, and a Mitsubishi MH200A helicopter dubbed "Mupal-Epsilon".

In December, Mitsubishi announced that the MRJ passed an important milestone, with the "iron bird" rig simulating the aircraft becoming airborne for the first time.

Iron bird tests with the MRJ will continue over the next three years. Mitsubishi Aircraft has said that the 90-seat MRJ90 is due to conduct its first flight test in the second quarter of 2012. Mitsubishi Aircraft also plans a 70-seat version.