2017: A Year of Progress for the MRJ

Posted by Alex Bellamy, Head of MRJ Program Management Office on Jan 4, 2018 7:02:13 PM
Alex Bellamy, Head of MRJ Program Management Office

In 2017, the MRJ development program made significant strides. A re-organization at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation offices earlier last year strengthened program teamwork, which led to notable testing progress and a successful debut at the Paris Air Show.

While the MRJ continues on its path toward type certification, we take a look back at the important milestones the program has achieved in 2017. 

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Testing

Flight and ground testing has defined 2017 for the MRJ.

The five flight test aircraft (FTA) underwent a battery of important tests that will ultimately prepare the MRJ for type certification. Mitsubishi teams in both Japan and the U.S. collaborated to ensure each test was adequately prepared and performed.

Over the course of the testing campaign, the four FTA have accumulated more than 1,500 total flight hours, effectively reaching the midpoint of the MRJ’s overall testing plan.

"I would like to wish all of our customers, partners and supporters a very prosperous New Year with many thanks for your continued support." 
     Alex Bellamy, Head of MRJ Program Management Division

In 2017 alone, the MRJ has undergone tests related to: natural icing capabilities, high speed flutter, extreme temperatures, and cargo smoke containment, to name a few. 2017 also saw the first-ever flights performed by non-Mitsubishi Aircraft test pilots as the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau piloted the MRJ for the first time in August.

Most recently, FTA-5 underwent an auxiliary power unit (APU) parking noise test at Nagoya Airfield on November 30. Using microphones positioned around the airframe, the test evaluated the aircraft’s APU parking noise and confirmed that it satisfied requirements.

This selection of tests has proved productive, with only small improvements to be made to the MRJ as a result of their findings. While these were predominantly company tests, the demonstrated performance sets the MRJ up for success in the type certification process to come.

Paris Air Show Debut

During its maiden voyage to the Paris Air Show in June, the MRJ turned the heads of aviation industry insiders and captured the growing excitement for Japan’s first jet-powered commercial aircraft. While on the ground at Le Bourget, MRJ test pilots Chief Captain Yoshiyuki Yasamura and Captain Martin Trout shared their experiences piloting the aircraft.

The MRJ also attracted considerable media attention. CNN Aviation Editor Jon Ostrower called the MRJ a “potential game-changer” in his coverage, touting the improved reliability and efficiency that will make it a great regional jet.

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Reinforced Teamwork

The backbone of the MRJ’s successful testing campaign has been strengthened teamwork at all of our bases. A restructuring of the MRJ development program in 2016 brought in engineers from top aircraft programs from Japan and around the world, who have previously navigated the certification process and are familiar with the commercial aerospace business.

This global aviation experience, combined with Japanese manufacturing excellence, has led to enhanced workflows and communication between the primary flight testing hub in Moses Lake, engineering center in Seattle, Washington and Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation headquarters in Nagoya, Japan—making for a much smoother and more productive testing process throughout the year.

In early 2017, we further improved our way of working by setting up an Integrated Product Team (IPT) structure at our flight test center. Each aircraft is led by a manager and supported by a cross-functional team that is empowered to make decisions on behalf of their aircraft. This new way of working has led to performance improvements and valuable data to advance the program.

This improved methodology also applies to the Nagoya headquarters. In late 2017, we rolled out this IPT structure across the entire MRJ organization, improving communications and decision making between all program functions such as engineering, manufacturing, certification and supply chain. This new way of working has laid the foundation for continued program performance improvements (kaizen) this year.

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Looking Ahead to 2018 

The MRJ enjoyed a big 2017, performing important tests and making vital progress on its path toward type certification. Looking forward, 2018 will be a very important year for the MRJ team and we’re excited to share the latest updates regarding our progress with industry peers at the Singapore and Farnborough Air Shows. We also look forward to showcasing our progress as we advance a world-class aerospace program built for the coming decades.

Tags: Testing, Flight Testing, Engineering, Ground Testing, MRJ Team, Program Management Office, Program Developments