TOKYO – Mitsubishi, a maker of the Zero fighter, took a step toward reclaiming Japan's one-time status as an aviation power Wednesday with the maiden flight of its regional jet.
The aircraft took off in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, as seen in a live webcast. It landed about an hour later.
Mitsubishi pushed back the jet's first flight by a few months but said the delay would not affect its planned commercial deliveries.
The project reflects a desire to turn Japan's modern engineering and manufacturing prowess into a top-tier aircraft industry, some 70 years after Japan suspended making planes following its defeat in World War II.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other major Japanese manufacturers are key suppliers for many aircraft parts and systems. But a large share of the components in the 70- to 90-seat Mitsubishi regional jet came from leading foreign suppliers.
Mitsubishi faces a stiff challenge in competing with Brazil's Embraer, which dominates the difficult regional jet market, analysts say.