• Kyodo

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The Mitsubishi Regional Jet is facing yet another delay and is unlikely to meet its mid-2018 delivery date target, the president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said in a recent interview.

“We are not yet in a situation where we can achieve” the delivery date, MHI President Shunichi Miyanaga said in an interview Thursday, citing difficulties in passing the safety tests.

Miyanaga did not say how long the delay might be, but it would be the fifth since the manufacturer started hawking Japan’s first home-made passenger jet. His remarks underscore the difficulties the contractor has encountered in building a jet in Japan.

The MRJ will is the first domestic plane since Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corp.’s YS-11 turboprop plane was rolled out half a century ago.

Miyanaga also said development cost have been higher than expected and might grow further.

Last December, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., 64 percent owned by MHI, put off initial delivery by a year to mid-2018 as it wanted more time to strengthen the wing design.

After flying three prototypes to the United States, the company has been conducting full-fledged test flights since late this year to get safety certification for the plane from the Japanese government.

“It is difficult to know when we can receive” the safety certification, Miyanaga said, indicating the tests are behind the delivery postponement.

“Procedures to scientifically prove safety have become far tighter than before,” he said.

ANA Holdings Inc., the parent of All Nippon Airways Co., will be the world’s first recipient of the MRJ.

“We are now explaining (to ANA) what problems we are facing and how we will deal with them,” Miyanaga said, declining to say exactly what they are.

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