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Mitsubishi's MRJ Iron Bird test rig completed first 'flight'
Etihad Airways cancels six Airbus A350-1000 orders
Mitsubishi Aircraft says it has completed its
first simulation of an MRJ regional jet flight in
the company's 'iron bird' hydraulic and flight-
control test rig -- a major milestone for the
The iron bird consists of an MRJ
flight deck, hydraulic and flight-control
equipment, on-board software which
will eventually be loaded onto the actual
aircraft, and computers creating the
simulated flight environment.
The tests are being conducted at the
MRJ programme's dedicated test facility at
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI's) Oye Plant
in Nagoya, Japan. MHI is currently responsible
for manufacturing and testing the aircraft as
the major partner to Mitsubishi Aircraft.
"The commencement of the iron bird
test marks an important milestone,"
Mitsubishi says. "The successful start of these
manoeuvring tests shows steady progress of
MRJ development toward flight tests."
The iron bird is able to conduct tests that
could not be conducted on an actual test
aircraft, such as major systems failures, the
manufacturer says. Testing on the rig will
continue over the next three years to achieve
The first flight of the 90-seat MRJ is
scheduled for the second quarter of this
year, with a 70-seat version also being
planned. To date, three customers have
committed to acquiring the new aircraft.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) has placed
a firm order for 15 MRJs, with ten
options, US-based TransStates Holdings
has ordered 50, with another 50 options,
while Hong Kong-based lessor ANI Group
Holdings -- a unit of Aero Nusantara
Indonesia -- has signed a Memorandum of
Understanding to buy five.
-- Andrzej Jeziorski
Boeing rolls out first JAL 787
Boeing rolled out the first 787
'Dreamliner' set to enter service with
Japan Airlines (JAL) from its paint hangar
in December. The aircraft's livery features
the Japanese flag-carrier's new brand
mark on its tail and "underscores the
airline's commitment to provide the
highest level of service to customers
and contribute to the advancement of
society", Boeing says.
The aircraft is scheduled to be delivered
to the airline in mid-February. JAL has
ordered 35 787s, all of them the baseline
-8 variant, which seats 210 passengers in
a typical three-class configuration.
Etihad Airways, the flag carrier of the United
Arab Emirates, has cancelled six of its orders
for the Airbus A350-1000, becoming the first
customer to scrap orders for the type since its
The airline previously had 25 of the aircraft
on firm order, with 10 options. The firm order
tally has been cut back to 19, according to the
latest order and delivery figures from Airbus.
According to reports in the press, sources at
the airline say it was unhappy with the design
changes made to the aircraft -- an 11-frame
stretch of the baseline -900 version of the
A350. Customers Emirates and Qatar Airways
had also expressed dissatisfaction.
The manufacturer released new
specifications for the A350-1000, resulting
in a two-year delay to the programme.
The redesign is based on a more powerful
version of the Trent XWB engine, along with
Airbus said the changes had been made
to increase payload and range, although
some observers suggested there may have
been weight or performance issues with the
original design that needed fixing.
Emirates President Tim Clark said the new
engine had hurt fleet commonality and the
A350-1000's effectiveness as an economical
replacement for Boeing's 777-300 twinjet.
Overall, the A350 programme secured
just ten new orders in 2011, suffering 41
cancellations.-- Andrzej Jeziorski
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