Japan unveils first passenger jet after 4 years of delays

Despite delays, the MRJ is still poised to be first to the regional jet market with a next-generation engine

Japan unveiled its first passenger jet today after a delay of almost four years, with a helping hand from bullet-train specialists as it prepares for test flights next year, Bloomberg news reports.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. displayed the regional jet to the public in Nagoya after three delays as customers including ANA Holdings Inc. and SkyWest Inc. await delivery. Mitsubishi is building 78- and 92-seat versions of the plane, designated MRJ, and plans to conduct its first flight by June. The larger jet will be available first.

Japan and China are leading an Asian race to break the hold of Embraer SA (EMBR3) and Bombardier on the market for small passenger jets. With the Chinese project also delayed, Mitsubishi’s Pratt & Whitney turbofan-engined MRJ will be a test of whether a new entrant can successfully break into the small group of leading aircraft manufacturers. Boeing Co. and its European rival Airbus Group NV dominate the market for larger passenger planes.

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