Japan's first domestically produced passenger jet, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), takes off from Nagoya Airport in Toyoyama, central Japan, for its first flight Wednesday morning, Nov. 11, 2015. Mitsubishi, a maker of the Zero fighter, took a step toward reclaiming Japan's one-time status as an aviation power Wednesday with the maiden flight of its regional jet. (Muneyuki Tomari/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan’s first passenger jet takes off in maiden test flight
Agence France-Presse / 10:28 AM November 11, 2015
NAGOYA, Japan—Japan’s first domestic passenger jet successfully took off on its maiden test flight Wednesday, culminating a decade of development for a program aimed at competing with Brazilian and Canadian rivals in the global market for smaller aircraft.
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) — developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries– lifted off from the runway at Nagoya airport.
The approximately 35-metre (115-foot) long two-engine aircraft flew smoothly upward into clear skies in central Japan, said AFP journalists at the scene.
The plane marks a new chapter for Japan’s aviation sector, which last built a commercial airliner in 1962 — the YS-11 turboprop that was discontinued about a decade later.
The MRJ will seat about 80 passengers and is seen competing with other regional passenger jet manufacturers such as Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier.
Firms in Japan were banned from developing aircraft by US occupiers following its defeat in World War II.
Mitsubishi Heavy, a military contractor, built Japan’s legendary “Zero” World War II fighter jet.
The developer boasts that the MRJ, a fuel-efficient, next-generation aircraft, will offer more passenger comfort with lower operating costs, eyeing the booming regional jet sector.