Japan's First Passenger Jet, A Geared Turbofan, Wins Foreign Order

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The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Japan's state-backed stab at earning a foothold in the commercial passenger jet market, has won a 100-plane order with a street value of $4 billion from a U.S. regional carrier. Trans State Holdings, based in Missouri, operates GoJet and Trans States Airlines, along with feeder services for United and US Airways. Said Trans States President Richard Leach, "Making a decision of this size in this economic situation was difficult." But Mitsubishi says the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney PW-1000G geared turbofan engines (shared by Bombardier C Series aircraft) can bring fuel burn savings of up to 30 percent per hour over other similar but differently engined designs. A report by the AFT notes that Mitsubishi was "advised by US Aircraft maker Boeing" and switched "to aluminum for the wings, from carbon-fibre." Boeing has suffered significant delays in the late stage development of its larger next-generation all-composite 787 Dreamliner, due most recently to a redesign of the composite wing root.

Mitsubishi hopes to start production of the MRJ at its factory in Nagoya prefecture, eventually increasing production to 72 per year from 24. First deliveries are expected early in 2014. Trans State is not the launch customer -- All Nippon Airways agreed in 2008 to purchase 25 of the jets.