Japan's hopes of becoming a global player in commercial aviation were given a boost this week with the first flight of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet. The MRJ90 test aircraft took off from Nagoya, Japan, on Wednesday and spent an hour and a half in the skies off the Pacific coast running through basic flight functionality.

"Operational performance of the MRJ was far better than expected. We had a significantly comfortable flight," said Pilot Yasumura, who served as captain.

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The first passenger aircraft developed in Japan since 1962, the MRJ aims to take on Bombardier and Embraer in the under 100-seat aircraft sector.

The aircraft features Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1200G turbofan engines that, combined with aerodynamic advances, result in a claimed 20 percent improvement in fuel consumption compared to current regional jets, as well as reduced noise and emissions.

The MRJ90 will seat 88 passengers four abreast and the cockpit will host a full fly-by-wire flight deck. Each of the three variants will have a maximum mach number of M0.78, maximum operating altitude of 11, 900 m (39,000 ft) and a range of 2,120 km (1,150 nm).

Flight testing is set to continue ahead of the first production delivery, which is scheduled to take place in the second quarter of 2017. After this, the MRJ 90 will be joined by its smaller 78-seat sibling, the MRJ70.

Highlights of the MRJ's maiden flight can be seen in the video below.

Source: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation