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Let's discuss the new Mitsubishi Regional Jet

This week’s featured article

BLOOMBERG, KYODO, AP

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.’s new jet took off Wednesday on its debut flight from Nagoya airport in central Japan, half a century after the country last introduced a new passenger plane.

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which can seat up to 92 passengers, took off at 9:35 a.m. with two pilots in the cockpit. It flew over the Pacific coast and returned to the airport almost 90 minutes later. A round of applause rang out when the plane landed at 11:02 a.m.

Mitsubishi Heavy, which built the renowned World War II-era Zero fighter, is a parent company of Mitsubishi Aircraft. Mitsubishi Heavy and other major Japanese manufacturers are key suppliers for many aircraft parts and systems. But a large share of the jet’s components came from leading foreign suppliers.

Mitsubishi Aircraft, which has delayed the MRJ’s expected delivery date three times, tapped bullet train specialists to ensure the plane was completed.

“The MRJ has a lot of potential,” said Dan Lu, an analyst at JPMorgan Securities Japan Co. in Tokyo. “I expect demand for regional jets to increase as more people fly and airlines put smaller jets on some routes.”

The company has won 407 orders, including options and purchase rights, for two versions of the MRJ, which can seat from 78 to 92 passengers.

The development of the MRJ, which began a decade ago, has boosted hopes for growth of the country’s manufacturing industries, as the airplane requires millions of parts.

The government also lauded the plane’s maiden flight.

“It is the dawn of a new era for Japan’s aviation industry,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Motoo Hayashi said in a statement. “It will drive Japan’s growth.”

Japan’s last homegrown passenger plane was the YS-11, a turboprop made by Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corp. Only 182 of the planes were sold.

Mitsubishi Aircraft estimates the cost of developing the MRJ will be about ¥180 billion. The 92-seat MRJ90 is selling at a list price of $47.3 million, according to the company.

The two biggest customers for the MRJ are SkyWest Inc. and Trans States Airlines Inc. in North America. Domestically, Mitsubishi Aircraft has won orders from Japan Airlines Co. in addition to ANA, the nation’s biggest carrier.

First published in The Japan Times on Nov. 12.

Warm up

One-minute chat about airplanes.

Game

Collect words related to airplanes, e.g., travel, airport, passport.

New words

1) aviation: related to aircraft; e.g., “The aviation business is huge.”

2) renowned: famous; e.g., “He is a renowned pianist.”

3) component: part; e.g., “The watch is made of many components.”

Guess the headline

Dawn of a new era for Japan’s a_ _ _ _ _ _ _ industry with M_ _ debut flight

Questions

1) At what price is the MRJ being sold for?

2) How much is the development of the MRJ expected to cost?

3) Who are the main customers for the MRJ so far?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What things do you think should be made domestically?

2) How often do you travel by airplane?

3) Do you think the MRJ will be a success?

Reference

様々な紆余曲折と困難を乗り越えて、10年越しの開発を経てついに日本で生まれた飛行機が空を飛びました。前回のモデルが空を飛んでから非常に長い時間が経ち、プロジェクトに携わる人たちにとってはこの飛行は夢のような瞬間だったでしょう。

しかし、肝心なのはここからです。莫大な予算をかけ、長い時間と労力を費やしてもその売れ行きが芳しくなければやはりビジネスとしては成功とはいえません。YS-11の売れ行きなどを考えると、MRJもここで気を緩めずビジネスの拡大をしていくことがこれまでの労力が報われるための大事なポイントかもしれません。

多くの人がこのプロジェクトに大きな官人を持っています。国産の飛行機は、これからどのくらい日本の、そして世界の空を翔ていくのでしょうか。

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