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Mitsubishi may delay delivery of first jet to ANA; tech change needed

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. may delay the delivery of Japan’s first domestically made passenger plane to the first customer ANA Holdings, Inc. because of possible technical modifications to the aircraft.

The builder of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, set for delivery in mid-2018, is conducting a close study on whether there may be a delay in development with involved parties, Miho Takahashi, a spokeswoman for Mitsubishi Aircraft, said by telephone Monday. The company informed ANA of the possible holdup in late September, and the carrier will decide on a response only if a delay is confirmed, said Maho Ito, a spokeswoman at the airline.

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, aimed at challenging the dominance of Brazil’s Embraer SA and Canada’s  Bombardier, Inc. in the market for planes with fewer than 100 seats, suffered recent setbacks after two flights to the US were aborted following faulty air-conditioning sensors. Its third attempt was a success, with the plane arriving at Moses Lake, Washington, on Wednesday to start flight testing.

While a delay is possible, Mitsubishi Aircraft and its parent Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said no decision has been made to change the delivery schedule at present.

“When issues arise in the development process, we take appropriate steps, including informing and consulting with the authorities and customers,” the two companies said in a statement Monday. “If any decisions are made in the future on important items to be made public including development schedule, we will announce them promptly.”

ANA, the operator of Japan’s biggest airline and the launch customer for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, has ordered 25 MRJs, including options.

The jet, which can seat as many as 92 people, made its first flight in November last year and won its first order from a European company in February. Mitsubishi has 427 orders for the aircraft, including options and purchase rights.