HOUSTON Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on Tuesday said problems with its Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) that delayed a recent test flight to the United States are an easy fix, and it expects to re-schedule the flight in the near future.
The company aborted a test flight to the U.S. in late August following an issue with the jet’s air management system. That issue was primarily related to sensors for the system, Chief Executive Shunichi Miyanaga said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.
He added that the air conditioning system itself was not particularly problematic, and that the company expects to have a test flight from Nagoya, Japan to Moses Lake, Washington, “pretty soon.”
The MRJ passenger plane is the first manufactured by a Japanese company in five decades and underscores the country’s ambition to re-establish its commercial aircraft industry. But the project has faced a series of delays and setbacks.
The company said its unit Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp is still on track to deliver its first MRJ jet in 2018 after postponing delivery four times.
Mitsubishi also said it is working with customers to address weight issues for its 90-seat MRJ, which is about 600 kilograms too heavy for U.S. regulations. While the company could not comment specifically on those discussions, it said if an urgent solution is required, it could potentially limit seating on the flight or change the arrangement.
It is not uncommon for an aircraft manufacturer to experience excess weight in early design airplanes.
Pratt and Whitney, which is providing engines for the MRJ jet, has also experienced delays.
Mitsubishi said there have been some delays for the delivery of its flight-test engines but this has not been a significant issue for its current production schedule, as it has also experienced delays.
“We will be able to expect that they will be solved in time for commercial delivery,” Miyanaga said of the engine delays.
He added that there was some flexibility in the early stage production cycle for jets that will go into commercial service.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)