TOKYO Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp, a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (7011.T), said on Thursday it would delay the initial delivery of its regional jet to the second-quarter of 2017 to ensure the company can meet Japanese safety regulations.
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Japan's first commercial aircraft in half a century, was set to start being delivered to customers in 2015.
Mitsubishi Aircraft CEO Teruaki Kawai said the delay was due to the company's underestimation of the time it needed to sort out how to validate the safety of the manufacturing process of the jet and its components, and not from any issues with specific suppliers.
A report by the Nikkei business daily had put the delays down to problems with the delivery of parts, including engines from Pratt & Whitney.
"We were late in noticing (how long this will take), and that is largely because this is new for us," Kawai told a news conference. "We are confident we can meet this schedule."
Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp (UTX.N), also denied there were any delays on its part. "We are on track and on time to deliver the first engine as required by Mitsubishi's schedule," the company said in a statement.
Mitsubishi Aircraft already has 165 firm orders for the MRJ, and this is the third time the company has pushed back the jet's delivery schedule. The MRJ will now go on its first flight in 2015 instead of later this year, Kawai said.
The plane, which has 70-90 seats, has a sticker price of $42 million. It aims to compete with jets made by Brazil's Embraer (EMBR3.SA) and Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO). The first delivery of the jet, developed at a cost of $1.9 billion, will go to Japanese airline ANA Holdings (9202.T).
(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Miral Fahmy)