Mitsubishi Aviation announced this week that it will unveil the first made-in-Japan commercial airliner in 50 years.
Christened the MRJ or Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the 70-90 seat airliner is set to enter service in 2017, reports the AP. The MRJ will be the first commercial airliner to emerge from the country since the YS-11 turboprop entered service in 1965. The new jet will be powered by Pratt & Whitney’s 1200G turbofan engines.
The new jet will compete not only with established regional airliners from Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer but also with competition in China from airliners build by state-owned COMAC.
Mitsubishi Aviation (in which Toyota has a 10% stake) expects a boom in the regional jet market over the next decade or so and believes that demand for regional jets will reach 5,000 aircraft by 2031.
Thus far, the MRJ has garnered nearly 200 orders from customers including Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and Skywest.
Although this may be Mitsubishi’s first foray into commercial air travel in decades, the company has a rich aviation past. During World War II, Mitsubishi produced Japan’s legendary A6M Zero fighter and G4M Betty bomber.
More recently, the company built the Japanese Air Force’s F1 fighter and constructed licensed versions of the American F-15J fighter.
Mitsubishi has also been active in the civil aviation market, with the Mitsubishi Diamond line of private jets.
And it’s not as if Mitsubishi is the only company most people know as an automaker that’s also doing aviation. Honda has been developing its HondaJet private aircraft for decades.
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