Fierce competition prompts move on next-generation jets

Fierce competition prompts move on next-generation jets
File Photo: In this computer rendering released by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shows a MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet) passenger jet.

The government's plan to assist in the development of a next-generation passenger jet is prompted partly by fierce international competition to develop new small models of aircraft.

A senior official of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said the markets for large and midsize passenger planes with 230 or more passenger seats "are the exclusive territory of US and European companies."

Business opportunities exist in the market for small planes, for which demand is expected to grow, but Russia and China are already accelerating their efforts to enter the market. This prompted the Japanese government to move quickly.

A government source said, "Japan will lag behind unless the public and private sectors join forces in this area."

The MRJ cost about ¥180 billion(S$3 billion) to develop, and the next-generation plane is expected to cost more. Nearly 20 years are commonly necessary from the development stage of an aircraft to achieving a profitable line.

A source in the aircraft industry said, "The hurdles are too high for the private sector alone to enter the market."

Technologies of the next-generation passenger plane are expected to be utilized in fighter jets and other equipment in the defence industry. Thus the government should play an active, key role in the development project.

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