Mitsubishi jet starts test flights in U.S. to gain safety certification

NAGOYA – Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. said Monday its small regional plane, Japan’s first homegrown commercial passenger jet, has started test flights in the United States.

The tests, the final regulatory challenge ahead of the company’s targeted delivery of the first Mitsubishi Regional Jet in mid-2020, are expected to take about a year. They involve pilots from the Japanese transport ministry.

Mitsubishi has delayed delivery of the MRJ five times since 2013 due to design modifications.

On Sunday, engine functions of the narrow-body, twin-engine jetliner were confirmed following a flight from the base of Mitsubishi Aircraft, a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., in Washington state, company officials said.

The test flights were originally scheduled to start in late January but were put off due to bad weather and a delay in preparations.

Two new MRJ models currently under production at the company’s base in Toyoyama, Aichi Prefecture, will also be tested in the United States later this year, the officials said.