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Mitsubishi Heavy fights to keep Regional Jet on track

Staff Writer |
After repeatedly missing promised delivery dates, Mitsubishi Aircraft lost an order for 40 Mitsubishi Regional Jets from U.S. carrier Eastern Air Lines in January.

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Since then, other customers have said nothing, but the situation looks grim for the Japanese company.

The plane maker, a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has to clear a number of hurdles if it is to hold on to orders for more than 400 aircraft, including additional purchase options.

Mitsubishi Aircraft now expects to hand over the first MRJ to Japan's ANA Holdings in 2020, seven years behind schedule. Delivery of the plane has been postponed five times.

The MRJ, Japan's first homegrown passenger jet in nearly half a century, made its maiden flight test in 2015, but the aircraft's design has still not been certified safe by aviation authorities, including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Even if Mitsubishi Aircraft manages to roll out the plane by 2020, it may not be able to meet future delivery deadlines.

Mitsubishi Aircraft does not have other aircraft to offer. Although the Japanese company has declined to comment on individual contracts, it is likely to have already paid compensation to customers.

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