NAGOYA -- A prototype of the trouble-plagued Mitsubishi Regional Jet set out Monday on its third attempt to reach a test site in the U.S.
The passenger aircraft took off from Nagoya Airport at around 1:30 p.m. and landed at roughly 3 p.m. at New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, the first stop on its route. No major problems were reported. The MRJ will depart Hokkaido on Tuesday or later depending on the weather. After making additional stops, including in Russia and Alaska, it is slated to arrive in the Washington state city of Moses Lake as early as Thursday, Japan time.
The first attempted flight to the U.S., on Aug. 27, was aborted when problems with the air management system were detected. Faulty parts were replaced, and another flight was attempted the next day -- only to be cut short when problems in the same system were detected. Mitsubishi Aircraft, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries unit developing the MRJ, apparently determined the cause and made repairs, paving the way for the third try.
The MRJ must log 2,500 hours of test flights to obtain certification for commercial use. Mitsubishi Aircraft chose to send four MRJ prototypes to the American site for reasons including favorable weather conditions. The company looks to conduct smooth trial runs in the U.S. and bounce back from the bad publicity caused by the recent delays.