Mitsubishi MRJ90

The Mitsubishi MRJ program is the first major civil aviation program to come out of Japan in a few decades.  There have been military jets but this is the first civilian airliner since the YS-11.  The program has not been trouble free and there have been a number of delays.  Meanwhile, recognizing the need to have US customers for the aircraft, Mitsubishi has collaborated with a US company to undertake the testing and certification program.

A result of this is that the prototypes have been sent to the US.  Moses Lake in Washington is the flight test center for the program.  The generally good weather and unrestricted airspace makes it a far better location than Japan for the testing program.  Also, it is more convenient for the American flight test team.  The prototypes have been ferried from japan to Moses Lake to allow testing.

The early jets came across a northern route via Russia to get to the US.  However, later jets took a southerly route via Hawaii to get to the US.  I missed previous jets despite them coming via San Jose.  The last of the jets was significantly delayed.  It finally headed across the Pacific but got to Hawaii and suffered a technical issue which delayed it.  I wondered whether it would ferry when I was nowhere convenient to see it arrive.  However, luck was on my side and it made the trip when I was free.

Getting it arriving at San Jose was easy enough.  With a departure time from Honolulu, it was straightforward to predict when it would arrive.  Getting the departure was a different story.  Flight test aircraft do not run to airline schedules.  The crew needed a break and the jet had to be refueled.  Even then, getting it up and running and to the departure runway was a slow process and I waited a long time for it to happen.  The upside to this was that the midday light was gone and things were a lot nicer by the time it rolled.  I was rather late though!

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