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Friday, October 12, 2007

Japanese Enter RJ Fray using Composites, P&W Engine

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. will decide by next spring whether or not to launch its proposed 70- to 90-seat regional jet for which it selected Pratt & Whitney's next generation Geared Turbofan(TM) engine. The jet, which competes against Bombardier, Embraer, Sukhoi and AVIC I’s ARJ21, powered by General Electric, will be the first regional jet which makes significant use of composite materials for its airframe.
The company expects to offer the MRJ in North America, Europe and Japan now to determine market demand for a composite regional jet costing between $25.6 million and $34.1 million. First flight is scheduled for 2011 and delivery for 2012 for the aircraft that promises fuel savings of 20 percent over conventional RJs. Mitsubishi provides composites wing parts for the Boeing 787.
The company expects to capture 20 percent of the regional jet market for which demand is expected to be about 5,000 aircraft over 20 years, according to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries President Kazuo Tsukuda. The new aircraft will be the first Japanese airliner since the YS-11 ceased production in 1973.
Pratt & Whitney has been developing the technology for the engine for 20 years. The sole-source agreement with Pratt is the first airframe application for the Geared Turbofan engine, which targets a significant reduction in fuel burn and noise with lower environmental emissions and operating costs than today's engines.
With full scale engine testing scheduled to begin later this year and flight testing in 2008, the Geared Turbofan technology program supports Mitsubishi Regional Jet's development timeline.
"The Geared Turbofan is the only engine on the market that can deliver the step-change improvements in fuel burn, environmental performance and operating costs that airlines are demanding for their next generation aircraft," said Steve Finger, president, Pratt & Whitney.
A Geared Turbofan engine incorporates a gear system which allows the engine's fan to operate independent of the low-pressure compressor and turbine, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and a slower fan speed for less noise.
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