NAGOYA:Japan’s first domestic passenger jet successfully took off on its maiden test flight Wednesday, culminating a decade of development for a programme 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-meter (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.