For a while it almost felt like the Mitsubishi Regional Jet would never make it to the USA. It is not often that a flight-test prototype aborts its mission twice in two days, but that was just what happened when Mitsubishi Aircraft attempted to ferry its first flight-test article to Moses Lake over the weekend of 27 August.
A month later and the Japanese manufacturer is no doubt breathing a belated sigh of relief after the MRJ landed safely at Grant County International airport after a 4,500nm (8,300km), multi-leg journey.
The real work, however, is only just starting.
Mitsubishi plans for the majority of flight testing to be performed in the USA, thanks to more predictable weather and a deep pool of certification specialists and engineering centres which are to be used to make up for its own inexperience.
It now has less than 20 months to secure approvals for the MRJ90 – a complicated process that will almost certainly encounter additional obstacles along the way.
It still aims to hand over the first example to launch customer All Nippon Airways in mid-2018, and can ill afford any further programme slippage.
While Mitsubishi has never previously produced a commercial aircraft, it has a strong aerospace pedigree.
Getting FTA-1 to the USA is a major milestone, but what follows will put its manufacturer’s credentials as a would-be airframer to the ultimate test.