PARIS (Reuters) - Japan brought its first passenger aircraft in half a century to the Paris Airshow, confirming it is on track for first delivery in mid-2020 and hoping to show potential customers the progress it has made.
The 90-seat Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) is Japan’s first commercial aircraft in 50 years but it has been delayed five times and is facing rising costs.
“We have brought it here to demonstrate that the plane is making good progress,” Shunichi Miyanaga, the president and chief executive of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, told journalists at the Paris Airshow on Sunday.
He said he did not expect to announce any orders at the show but would be speaking to many potential customers.
Yugo Fukuhara, vice president of sales and marketing at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp, said he hoped Swedish leasing company Rockton, which last year signed for up to 20 of the MRJ planes, would help market the jet to European customers.
Europe is the second largest market for regional aircraft after the United States.
“There are a lot of regional jets still operating in Europe and we have some great opportunity to replace those with the MRJ,” he told Reuters.
The MRJ, which is on static display at the air show, was delayed for two more years in January to redesign its wiring and meet the requirements for certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp has now brought French company Latecoere on board to introduce new wiring, Alex Bellamy, senior director of the program management office at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp, said.
When asked whether it could be delivered sooner, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp president Hisakazu Mizutani said the company was aiming for mid 2020 but was working hard to bring the technology forward.
Launch customer ANA, which has resorted to leasing jets and pushing back the retirement of older aircraft while its awaits the delayed MRJ, said on Sunday it remained committed to the program.
“As an airline, we are completely ready to receive it,” Osamu Shinobe, vice chairman of ANA Holdings, said.
Reporting by Victoria Bryan Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter