A moment is coming that is as much about a celebration of culture as it is advancements in technology.
It has been almost 50 years since a Japanese airframer offered passengers a glimpse of the sky. But a new century brought about a new aircraft from a familiar name, and there is only one company that is powering it. A name – that is also familiar – and powerful.
The Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has scheduled the first flight of its MRJ regional aircraft for Wednesday, Nov. 11. For those who work on the PW1200G engine that powers it, take-off will be a crescendo for an engine program that sparked a paradigm shift in the industry.
"I think we'll be excited and nervous at the same time," said Erik Shack, program manager for the PW1200G program. "We really want them to be successful. What happens to the aircraft reflects on Pratt & Whitney, and so we will be successful if they are successful."
The significance of the event to both the Japanese culture and Pratt & Whitney is not lost on Robert Grelotti, chief engineer of the PW1200G. "This will be the first flight for any Japanese airframer for a very long time – many decades. For us, it's important. It's the launch customer for the NGPF that started it all for Pratt & Whitney."
John Duffy, validation manager for the PW1200G, has been part of many an engine program at the "Dependable Eagle" corporation. He believes the MRJ's first flight may be one of the biggest accomplishments of his successful career.
"A long time coming," Duffy said. "I've been on the program since 2005. I started off with the GTF demo, which we used to convince the French, Airbus, that the GTF is a concept that can come to fruition."
Moments such as this are more than just anecdotes in a company timeline. One must go deeper – examine the influence that new technology has on aviation, on the future of travel, and two cultures – divided only by geography, but united in its vision to do something…different. One moment – one incredible, unforgettable moment. But not one that should be a surprise to anyone.
Because there is a Japanese proverb that states, "If you take action – it will become." And it will – soon.
"It demonstrates a high level technical sophistication, an ability to deliver an integrated platform that's competitive with any of the major economies in the world," Grelotti said. "A group of people have put their faith in Pratt & Whitney. We want to meet those obligations."
Celebrating will be fun as well.
"I'm sure we'll all be cheering by the end of this thing," Shack said.