In a very short message received this morning, we were told:
“Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) are currently continuing flight tests of the MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet) aircraft. The two companies are now reviewing entire schedule from testing to the first delivery and will release the results of the review before the end of December.”
This feels like a telegraphed message about another delay. This will almost certainly roll into a delay of certification and EIS. Launch customer ANA has been planning for a 2Q17 EIS. First flight was three years delayed. Delays are the new normal for clean sheet programs. It has been some 50 years since Mitsubishi developed an aircraft, so some delay is to be expected.
While another delay would be inconvenient for the MRJ program, it is not too bad a thing. After all, ANA may be launch customer, but over 80% of orders come from the US. The US customers will not be able to fly the aircraft in commercial service until the Scope Clause is expanded to allow this aircraft to be operated by regionals. At present it does not look like scope expansion is on the cards.