Japan's first commercial passenger plane in half a century made its maiden flight on Wednesday, in a breakthrough for the country's long-held ambition to establish an aircraft industry able to challenge some of the major players in global aviation.
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) successfully completed a 1.5-hour return flight from Nagoya Airport to test Mitsubishi Aircraft's ability to bring the 100-seat class plane into service after three years of delays.
The unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which built the World War Two-era Zero fighter, is hoping the $47-million regional jet will help it oust Canada's Bombardier as the world's second-biggest maker of smaller passenger jets behind Brazil's Embraer.
The MRJ turboprop is Japan's first commercial passenger aircraft since the 64-seat YS-11 turboprop entered service 50 years ago.
The first MRJ is slated for delivery in June 2017 to Japan's biggest carrier, ANA Holdings. Mitsubishi aims eventually to sell more than 2,000 aircraft in the competitive 70-90-seat mini-segment, currently led by Bombardier.