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Japan Debuts its First Passenger Plane in 50 Years

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The Mitsubishi Regional Jet prepares to take flight for the first time.Photograph by Kazuhiro Nogi — AFP via Getty Images

Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first passenger plane manufactured in Japan in more than 50 years, took flight for the first time on Wednesday.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation unveiled the MRJ last year and, as reported by Bloomberg, have since delayed its debut flight three times. This comes as part of a larger effort to break into global aircraft manufacturing. The market for regional jets holding less than 100 passengers is currently dominated by Brazil’s Embraer SA and Canada’s Bombardier Inc.

Bloomberg reports that Ascend Flightglobal Consultancy forecasts the MRJ will surpass the Bombardier to become the second largest supplier of regional jets. The aircraft is supposedly 20% more fuel efficient than its competitors due to a geared turbofan engine.

The manufacturer already has 407 orders, most of which have been put in by North America’s SkyWest Inc. and Trans States Airlines Inc. Mitsubishi has also received orders from All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines Co., the country’s largest airline.