JAPAN TO ENHANCE CAPABILITIES OF MANUFACTURING AIRCRAFT
The Government of Japan is promoting technological cooperation between local
industry and Boeing in aircraft electrification and high-rate composites manufacturing with the aim of expanding the country’s traditionally limited roles in aircraft manufacturing. Japanese industry has for decades,
had a strong presence in making aircraft structures and engine parts, noted Hiroyuki Hatada, the Director of the Ministry’s Aerospace and Defence Industry Division. But it has been largely unable to challenge foreign makers of onboard systems, companies that have entrenched positions and enjoy the low costs of high volumes.
Now prospective changes in aircraft technology are presenting Japan with opportunities to foray into areas of the industry where everyone is going back to square one or close to it. If a new technology largely displaces an old one and prompts major changes in manufacturing or system design, incumbent manufacturers lose many of their advantages.Application of new electric technology to aircraft is seen as one such opportunity. It was listed alongside high-rate, low-cost composites manufacturing and automation in the agreement that the Ministry signed with Boeing in January this year. Also close is the use of new techniques for making composites more quickly and more cheaply as low costs can follow from high production rates. A third area of technology in the agreement with Boeing is greater automation in aircraft manufacturing, with obvious value to increasing production rates.