MRJ Mitsubishi Regional Jet First Flight

NAGOYA, Japan—After a successful first flight of its regional jet on Wednesday,Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. is hoping to step up sales against competition from established aircraft makers and upstarts.

The gull-nosed Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the most prominent aircraft to carry the Mitsubishi name since the Zero fighter of World War II, flew over Japan and the Pacific coast for nearly an hour and a half. Escorted by Japanese military planes, it reached speeds of up to 280 kilometers an hour (174 miles an hour) and altitudes of up to 15,000 feet.

‘’Today was very windy,” but the plane remained mostly stable, chief test pilot Yoshiyuki Yasumura said later at a news conference. “During the approach it swayed a bit, but we were able to address this.’’

The jet being developed by a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy is designed for short-haul flights, a market in which it will compete against Embraer SA of Brazil and BombardierInc. of Canada.

Ascend Flightglobal, a consulting firm, estimates that carriers will order 4,360 regional jets through 2034 valued at around $135 billion. It predicts that Mitsubishi will capture 27% of that market in unit and value terms.

Now that Mitsubishi has demonstrated that the plane can fly, airlines “that have taken a wait-and-see approach can negotiate acquisition of the aircraft with increased confidence,” said Rob Morris, head of consultancy at Ascend Flightglobal in London.

Mitsubishi has touted the aircraft as offering greater fuel efficiency and comfort than existing regional jets.

It has plenty of company in seeking airlines’ business. Embraer and Bombardier are upgrading their airliners. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co. of Russia makes a regional jet and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China is developing one.

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet will come in versions seating roughly 70 and 90 passengers, with a list price of $46.3 million and $47.3 million, respectively. Mitsubishi said demand will be driven by airlines moving up from 50-seat planes or scaling back from larger ones.

Hiromichi Morimoto, president of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., the unit that is developing the aircraft, said Wednesday the company is considering a third version that would seat 100 passengers—pushing it closer in size to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, which seat over 100 passengers.

Bombardier has been focusing on developing larger aircraft to compete against the 737 and A320 series.

At Wednesday’s maiden flight of the Mitsubishi jet, hundreds of reporters, business leaders and air-travel enthusiasts gathered at Nagoya Airport, reflecting the jet’s status as a project of national interest for Japan. Minority investors include Toyota MotorCorp., and a range of Japanese companies are supplying parts.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called it “the dawn of a new era for Japan’s aviation industry,’’ saying the government would help promote the jet.

The aircraft was originally supposed to have its first test flight more than five years ago, but the program suffered a series of delays. Mitsubishi said it would deliver the first aircraft in 2017 to All Nippon Airways Co. The carrier has ordered 15 of the planes and taken options for 10 more.

Other customers include Trans States Holdings, Sky West Inc., Eastern Air Lines Group Inc., Air Mandalay Ltd. and Japan Airlines Co. In all, Mitsubishi said it has firm orders for 223 planes and options or purchase rights for 184 more.

The aircraft still needs to go through thousands of hours of flight testing and regulatory certification steps in Japan and the U.S.

The Mitsubishi jet, powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, is the first commercial airliner built in Japan since the propeller-driven YS-11, which was made by a consortium of Japanese companies in the 1960s and 70s.

Mitsubishi Heavy makes aircraft for Japan’s military and it has been a major subcontractor on commercial airplanes like the Boeing 787. “The Japanese aviation industry has been dependent on government demand, mainly the defense ministry, but now it has entered the phase of doing business with the private sector,’’ said aerospace analyst Yoshitomo Aoki.

 More informations

China unveils first Comac C919 passenger aircraft challenging Boeing and Airbus

China on Monday unveiled its first homegrown large passenger plane, fulfilling the Communist giant’s long-held dream of challenging the dominance of western aviation giants like Boeing and Airbus in the global commercial aviation market.

“The roll out of the first C919 aircraft marks a significant milestone in the development of China’s first indigenous aircraft,” Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) chairman Jin Zhuanglong said amid much fanfare at the launch ceremony here in China’s gleaming financial hub.

The C919 — a twin-engine, narrow-body aircraft seating up to 174 people — is similar in size to the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 series of jets, long the workhorses for airlines around the world.

With a flying range of up to 5,555 kilometres (3,451 miles), it is designed to compete head-to-head with its Airbus and Boeing rivals, and said to easily cover popular business and leisure routes from China such as Shanghai to Singapore and Beijing to Bangkok. The aircraft will make its first test flight next year, Jin said, indicating that the plane will miss the original deadline of this year. When the plane is cleared for commercial use, is expected to compete with the updated Airbus 320 and Boeing’s new-generation 737, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. At the ceremony, shown live on national television, the aircraft — sporting a largely white fuselage with a blue wavy stripe and a green tail — was towed beneath a banner with the phrase “a dream takes off” and past a huge Chinese national flag. Chinese President Xi Jinping, congratulating Chinese aviation experts for their dedication, asked them to make careful preparation for a maiden flight. Xi, also General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China, said in an instruction that safety and quality of the aircraft should be prioritised during the preparation for the first flight. With its maiden flight scheduled for next year and at least another three years of test flights, it will take some time before the single-aisle jet can ply commercial air routes the world over, the report said. The C919 was unveiled after China signed a $17 billion contract with European aerospace consortium Airbus to buy 130 aircraft on October 29 during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. China is the world’s largest civil aviation market, with its 21 largest airports seeing annual throughput exceeding 10 million passengers. China is expected to add 6,330 new aircraft worth a whopping $950 billion to its commercial fleet by 2034, according to estimates from Boeing. According to Airbus forecasts, China will need over 5,300 new passenger aircraft and freighters from 2014 to 2033, with a total market value of $820 billion. It represents 17 per cent of the world total demand for over 31,000 new aircraft in the next 20 years.


 More informations

Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control Accidents

The FAA and general aviation (GA) groups’ Fly Safe national safety campaign aims to educate the GA community on how to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents this flying season.  FAA Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker officially kicked off the #FlySafe campaign on Saturday, June 6, at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (AOPA) Fly-In at the Frederick Municipal Airport, Frederick, MD.

What is Loss of Control (LOC)?
A Loss of Control (LOC) accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen because the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and may quickly develop into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot. Contributing factors may include:  poor judgment/aeronautical decision making, failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action, intentional regulatory non-compliance, low pilot time in aircraft make and model, lack of piloting ability, failure to maintain airspeed, failure to follow procedure, pilot inexperience and proficiency, or the use of over-the-counter drugs that impact pilot performance.

Did you know?

  • Approximately 450 people are killed each year in GA accidents
  • Loss of Control is the number one cause of these accidents?
  • Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight.  It can happen anywhere and at any time.
  • There is one fatal accident involving LOC every four days.

Message from Mike Whitaker, FAA Deputy Administrator
The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents and save lives. You can help make a difference by joining our Fly Safe campaign! Every month we’re going to provide pilots a LOC solution on, developed by the team of experts on the GA Joint Steering Committee. They have studied the data and developed solutions – some of which are already reducing risk. We hope you will join us in this effort, and spread the word. Follow #FlySafe on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I know that working together as a community we can reduce LOC accidents.

Current topic: Transition Training

What is transition training?
Pilots benefit from transition training. Pilots need training when they transition from low-to-high and high-to-low performance aircraft.

Why is transition training important?
The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) accident data suggest that pilots with low time in type of aircraft are more likely to crash.  Although some transition training such as high performance, high altitude, complex aircraft and tail wheel instruction and endorsement is required by regulation, training focused on unique types and variations of aircraft can also be essential.

Did you know?
Pilots trained in traditional aircraft are more than twice as likely to have an accident in Light Sport Aircraft (LSAs) than pilots who are first trained in LSAs. The first 50 hours a pilot flies in experimental/amateur built aircraft are the most hazardous. Transition training with an experienced and qualified instructor can make this period safer.

What does good transition training look like?
Transition training should:

  • be conducted in accordance with a written training syllabus, which serves as a checklist for training;
  • be based on a review of practical test standards, which list the flight proficiency standards for the certificate and/or rating the transitioning pilot holds;
  • teach the pilot about what is different about an airplane and its installed equipment, such as avionics or controls;
  • cover normal, abnormal, and emergency procedures;
  • cover performance characteristics, including what to expect on takeoff, landing, cruise, descent, and glide;
  • address limitations, such as weight and balance, speeds, and wind limits;
  • be done with a current, qualified instructor who is fully knowledgeable about the airplane and equipment a pilot wants to train in; and
  •  be conducted in the environment that reflects where the pilot intends to fly.

Tips for pilots: 

  • Document personal performance.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Seek refresher training within six months of original transition training. Follow with annual training. Refresh training when returning to flying after a period of inactivity.
  • Join an aircraft type club.
  • Join the WINGS proficiency program.
  • Practice!

Learn more
Thinking about flying a new aircraft type? Watch a video featuring the FAA’s Jim Viola who discusses the importance of finding a flight instructor familiar with your aircraft type to help with your transition training plan.

The WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program helps pilots build an educational curriculum suitable for their unique flight requirements.  It is based on the premise that pilots who maintain currency and proficiency in the basics of flight will enjoy a safer and more stress-free flying experience.

Airplane Flying Handbook Chapters 11- 15 Transition Training

FAA transition training flyer.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (AOPA) online course on transitioning to other airplanes.

The General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA) transition training master syllabus.

FAA Safety Briefing, March/April 2014 issue.

The website has Notices, FAAST Blasts, online courses, webinars and more on key general aviation safety topics.

The FAA’s Additional Pilot Program Advisory Circular (AC 90-116) provides information and guidance on flight-testing experimental aircraft, allowing amateur-built aircraft owners to leverage experienced qualified pilots onboard while testing their aircraft.

The Fly Safe campaign partners are: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), FAA FAASTeam, GA Joint Steering Committee, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA), Soaring Society of America (SSA), Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), University Aviation Association (UAA), U.S. Parachute Association (USPA).


 More informations

FAA, EU Plan to Extend, Expand NextGen Pact

The FAA and the European Union today announced their intention to extend and expand their cooperative work toward providing seamless air traffic services for aircraft flying between the United States and Europe.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and the EC’s Director General for Mobility and Transport, Mr. Joao Aguiar Machado, signed a Letter of Intent on air traffic management modernization at a morning ceremony today in Paris.

“I’m extremely proud of our partnership with the European Union,” said Administrator Michael Huerta. “Today’s signing validates the collaborative work that began three years ago and confirms our commitment to enhance our relationship even further.”

“Modernizing air traffic management is vital for the future of European aviation,” said EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc. “We need to invest in innovation in order to improve ATM performances. This means cheaper flights, increased safety, a lower impact on the environment, and better capacity to manage traffic. We share these objectives with the U.S. We are already doing a great job with the FAA by cooperating on SESAR and NextGen. Now that we are both heading towards deploying new systems, I fully support the idea that we should explore the possibility to extend this excellent cooperation to all phases of ATM modernization. That’s the change in culture that will take global ATM systems into the future, and will help cope with the expected traffic increase.”

The extension and expansion of the current agreement would help to ensure that passengers will enjoy safer, on-time flying over the Atlantic thanks to the benefits of NextGen and its European counterpart, the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR).

The Memorandum of Cooperation, which was originally signed in March 2011, would be expanded to enhance collaboration on the deployment and implementation of NextGen activities. It would also maintain ongoing research on the interoperability of avionics, communication protocols and procedures, as well as operational methods under NextGen and SESAR.

The Letter of Intent reflects the strong commitment from the United States and the European Union to harmonize air traffic technologies and procedures involving NextGen and SESAR. This supports the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Global Air Navigation Plan, which aims to harmonize air traffic systems throughout the world.


 More informations

Aviation community demands action on alcohol to combat increase in ‘air rage’

“In a small metal tube 12,000 metres above the Earth no-one can help you,” said Martina Benkova, a Slovakian flight attendant who is now training crew in dealing with disruptive travellers. She was opening Dispax World, a conference held at Heathrow aimed at reducing the risks from unruly passengers – and crew.

The extent of in-flight disruption is increasing, according to the conference organiser, Philip Baum: “It is affecting 300-400 flights a week.” And the evidence at the conference is that alcohol is at the root of many potentially dangerous “air rage” incidents.

Problems begin on the ground, said Ms Benkova: “Ground staff don’t care if people are drinking at the airport – they just want to get rid of the problem.”

Carol Michel, a US lawyer representing airlines, said: “In Las Vegas, I see passengers wheel-chaired up to the door of the aircraft, because they’re too drunk to walk. I don’t think the bars and restaurants have any idea they are endangering the safety of that flight.”

But an aviation medicine specialist countered the widely held belief that drink has a heightened effect when flying. “It’s an urban myth that flying exacerbates the effect of alcohol. At cabin altitude there is no effect,” said Professor Michael Bagshaw from King’s College. However, he said some passengers who are fearful of flying are likely to turn to drink or drugs. He urged cabin crew to “avoid patronising or heavy-handed confrontation, and allow petty infractions to pass unchallenged.”

The desire for a cheap flight could be one reason for the rise in air rage, according to Professor Tom Baum of Strathclyde University: “The enthusiasm to get the cheapest possible flight to Australia means that people aren’t taking a stopover as they used to. If you’re at the end of your 24-hour tether, good behaviour can go out the window.” He said that changing social attitudes also had an effect:  “It’s not just alcohol – people’s expectations of entitlement puts a lot of pressure on front-line staff.”

Professor Baum said the best way to prevent disruptive incidents was to talk to passengers: “Give space and time to engage with them. Rage is much less likely with your ‘friend’ than with an anonymous uniform.”

Rebekah Tanti-Dougall, a lawyer from Malta, condemned the lack of resolve among airlines to prosecute “air rage” offenders – choosing instead just to give them a written warning. “Any passenger who poses any threat should not be treated lightly.”

 More informations