ANA Facing Risk of Delay in Delivery of Mitsubishi Regional Jets

(Bloomberg) -- Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., may delay the delivery of its MRJ regional jets to its first customer ANA Holdings Inc. due to the possibility of some technical modifications to the aircraft, the Japanese carrier said.

The builder of Japan’s first home-made passenger jet informed of the possibility of such a risk late September, ANA spokeswoman Maho Ito said, which may mean it won’t be able to meet the original schedule for mid-2018. Mitsubishi has not given any new date and ANA will decide on a response only to a confirmed delay, she said. Representatives of Mitsubishi didn’t respond to multiple calls to their cellphones outside business hours on Saturday.

The MRJ program, aimed at challenging the dominance of Brazil’s Embraer SA and Canada’s Bombardier Inc. in the market for planes with less than 100 seats, had recently suffered some setbacks after two test flights to the U.S. were aborted following faulty air-conditioning. As recently as August, Mitsubishi said it was sticking to its delivery schedule for 2018, and said its third attempt to test-fly the aircraft to the U.S. was a success on Wednesday.

Total Orders

ANA, the operator of Japan’s biggest airline and the launch customer for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, has ordered a total of 25 MRJs, which can seat as many as 92 people.

The MRJ, which made its first flight in November last year, won its first order from a European company in February. Mitsubishi had 427 orders for its new aircraft, including options and purchase rights, and its two biggest customers are based in the U.S.

Japan’s last domestically produced commercial aircraft was the YS-11, a turboprop made by Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corp., a consortium that included Mitsubishi Heavy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. Production was stopped in 1974 after 182 of the planes were sold.

Mitsubishi Heavy shares declined 2.7 percent to 419.10 yen in Tokyo on Friday, extending their losses this year to about 20 percent, versus a 14 percent drop in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index.