“We’re getting ready to build the first two engines for their first flight test aircraft,” Andrew Tanner, a vice president responsible for the MRJ engines at East Hartford, Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney, said in an interview in Tokyo today. Pratt & Whitney will deliver the engines “very soon. I’d say April.”
The engine maker will also boost the size of its MRJ support team in Japan by at least three times from about four people by the time of the first flight, scheduled for 2015, he said. Mitsubishi Aircraft in August said it was delaying delivery of its first jet by more than a year.
“As we get more into the program and get further closer to flight testing, we’ll have to increase the size of that team,” Tanner said. “We’re targeting the end of next year to certify” the engine.
The Japanese aircraft manufacturer, a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011), has won 325 orders, including options, for its 78- and 92-seater versions of the jet. The Nagoya, Japan-based company is competing against Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) and Embraer SA (EMBR3) in the small jet market.
Pratt & Whitney is also making variants of the turbofan engine for Airbus SAS, Bombardier, Embraer, and Russia’s Irkut Corp. (IRKT), and has secured about 4,700 firm orders and options, Tanner said.
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