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Japan's first commercial jet in 50 years makes maiden flight

Staff writer |
Japan's first commercial jet in half a century made its maiden flight˝, in a breakthrough for the country's long-held ambition to establish an aircraft industry.

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The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) took off on a one-hour return flight from Nagoya Airport to test Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp's ability to bring the 100-seat class plane into service after three years of delays.

The unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which built the World War Two-era Zero fighter, is hoping the $47-million regional jet will help it oust Canada's Bombardier Inc as the world's second-biggest maker of smaller passenger jets behind Brazil's Embraer SA.

The MRJ is Japan's first commercial passenger aircraft since the 64-seat YS-11 entered service 50 years ago.

The first MRJ is slated for delivery in June 2017 to Japan's biggest carrier, ANA Holdings. Mitsubishi aims eventually to sell more than 2,000 aircraft in the competitive market segment.

So far it has secured 223 firm orders, most recently in January when Japan Airlines asked for 32 planes. The biggest single purchase, for 100 aircraft, was from U.S. regional airline operator Trans State Holdings.

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