Overoptimism leads to 5th delivery delay of Japan jetliner

The Japan News / Yomiuri.

TOKYO – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) announced Monday it would delay delivery of its Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Japan’s first domestically developed jet airliner, by two years from mid-2018 to mid-2020. This is the fifth time delivery has been postponed.

The company has found that it is difficult for the current designs of the MRJ to obtain type certifications, which are necessary for commercial flights in Japan, the United States and other countries. As a result, the company needs more time for remodeling and other work to meet the certification requirements.

The fifth delay highlights again the company’s overoptimistic projections.

MHI President Shunichi Miyanaga expressed regret at a press conference, saying, “We should have studied a little more before starting the development, for example gathering information and conducting risk analysis.”

This delay will likely increase the total development cost by about 30 percent to surpass 500 billion yen (about 4,412,750,000).

The company will seek to move up the schedule for the first delivery to the end of 2019 by obtaining the type certificates as soon as possible.

MHI approved the MRJ development project in 2008 with a plan to deliver the first plane in 2013. But the company repeatedly delayed its first delivery due to such reasons as a change in the materials for the main wings and a review of the manufacturing process.

The company conducted the first successful test flight of the MRJ in November 2015. Currently, three test models of the MRJ are undergoing test flights based in the United States to obtain the type certificates.

The development of MRJ planes is being carried out by MHI’s subsidiary, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.

However, some employees, including one who has experience working at a major U.S. aircraft manufacturer, said more time will be needed to obtain the type certificates for the current MRJ planes.

In the initial design of the MRJ, important electronic components were installed in a single location at the front of the planes’ bodies. However, it is said to be an international standard for these components to be installed separately, in case of emergencies.

In the wake of the finding, the company reviewed the layout and wiring of the electronic component for controlling systems in autumn 2016.

Apparently, MHI had no choice but to postpone the delivery because test planes need to be remodeled based on the revised designs and some of the tests need to be conducted again, requiring much more time.

Miyanaga emphasized that MHI would realize the first delivery in 2020, saying, “We want to fly [an MRJ] in the year of the Tokyo Olympics at any cost.”

Airline companies at home and abroad, including ANA Holdings Inc., have already placed orders for more than 400 MRJ planes.

Client companies may have to take such steps as introducing other types of planes as alternatives or delaying the planned retirement of planes currently in use.

ANA Holdings on Monday released a comment on the delay: “Though it is very regrettable, we hope that planes of high quality will be delivered to us under the principle of safety first.”

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