Japan’s first airliner in 50 years makes maiden test flight

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Tokyo (dpa) – The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Japan’s first jetliner in half a century, made its maiden test flight Wednesday at an airport in central Japan after delays due to design problems.

The MRJ took to the air from Nagoya Airport Wednesday morning for the 90-minute flight.

“We have to conduct some checkups but I think it was enormously successful,” Hideaki Omiya, chairman of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, told reporters, referring to the test flight.

The 35-metre-long twin-engine aircraft, which has 70 to 90 seats and fuel-efficient engines, became the first passenger jetliner produced in Japan since the YS-11 turboprop was launched more than 50 years ago.

Mitsubishi first postponed the jet’s flight test flight in May to review part of its design. The maiden flight was then scheduled for late October, but it was put off again as the cockpit pedals needed to be improved.

The company has already received orders for a total of 407 MRJ jets from domestic and foreign carriers, including 200 from Trans State Holdings, which operates three regional airlines in the United States.

Japan’s largest airline All Nippon Airways, is scheduled to take delivery of the passenger plane in 2017.

Japan’s largest carmaker Toyota Motor and major trading house Mitsubishi Corp each own a 10-per-cent stake in Mitsubishi Aircraft.

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