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Eastern star

Despite its success with cars, Japan has never made a successful commercial aircraft. Mitsubishi is hoping that its new MRJ project will change that, and the interior is part of its competitive edge

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet is a new contender in the short- to medium-range aircraft market. It is available as the MRJ 70 and MRJ 90, with a maximum of 78 and 92 passengers respectively at 29in pitch in a 2+2 configuration. The company claims the fuselage width of 108.5in and height of 80in is greater than the competing Bombardier CRJ and the EMBRAER 170/190.

Heath Tecna, part of Zodiac Aerospace, was awarded a contract in January 2010 to jointly develop and supply nose-to-tail interiors for the aircraft, acting as a Tier 1 supplier. It is engineering the cabin, which includes lavatories, ceiling panels, stowage bins, sidewalls, dado panels, closets and partitions. Heath Tecna is also responsible for the design and fabrication of the flight deck and cargo compartment linings. As payload system integrator, it is managing seven Tier 2 supplier partners, providing modular galley systems, water/waste and vacuum systems, crew seating, emergency equipment including escape slides, passenger service units, and insulation for the entire aircraft.

The economy class seat has been developed by Delta Kogyo of Hiroshima, specialists in automotive seats, and features an extremely short seat base, at just 13in. This is designed to avoid pressure on the backs of the legs on longer sectors. There is a slide mechanism that extends the base by a few inches, although the rigid seatback stays upright. Beneath the white seat cover (a deliberate choice to contrast with the dark rear of the seat), there is a 3D net fabric with a thickness of only 0.25in, which enables the bottom and back of the seat to be thinner than conventional seats, to give more leg room. The fabric, previously used in car applications, disperses body pressure and absorbs perspiration. Premium class features a 2+1 layout at 38in pitch, with seats provided by Zodiac Seats California.

The overhead bins can accommodate two IATA roller bags (25cm x 45cm x 56cm) longitudinally. In premium class, the bins are smaller, to give an impression of greater space, and can house a 20cm x 25cm large briefcase – with only a few seats likely to be installed, the company says stowage areas will be able to take any larger luggage.

The LED ceiling lights face aft, providing good visibility for boarding passengers. Viewed from behind, the lights illuminate a moulded panel to highlight a shape based on the slope of Mount Fuji.

There are forward and aft galleys and lavatories, with the rear lavatory being wheelchair accessible.

Mitsubishi Aircraft has received 130 aircraft orders so far, including 25 from All Nippon Airways (15 firm, 10 option), 100  from Trans States Holdings (50 firm, 50 option) and five (all firm) from ANI Group Holdings. It also has an agreement in principle with SkyWest for 100 aircraft to be delivered between 2017 and 2020.

The first flight is scheduled for next year, with five aircraft being used in a 2,500-hour flight test programme, with first delivery in 2015. 

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