Japan to unveil next-generation passenger plane project

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Japan is expected to announce plans to develop a next-generation passenger jet following a government committee meeting on Wednesday, a year after the last struggling attempt was scrapped.

The public-private project, which could use hydrogen fuel in a bid to cut emissions, will cost around five trillion yen ($33 billion), Japanese media reported, citing unnamed sources.

An official announcement is expected later on Wednesday after a closed-door meeting of politicians, experts and businesspeople to discuss a new aviation industry strategy.

“For the Japanese aircraft industry to achieve sustainable growth, we cannot stay satisfied with our position as a parts supplier,” Kazuchika Iwata, state minister for economy, trade and industry, told the committee in comments open to press at the start of the meeting.

“In the new business fields of carbon-neutral technologies, including hydrogen, we aim to take a leading position” and partner with global players to develop a narrow-body plane, he said.

The goal is for the plane to be ready by 2035, the Nikkei business daily and other Japanese media reported.

The fresh push to build the nation’s first homemade airliner in more than half a century comes after Mitsubishi Heavy Industries abandoned a much-hyped attempt in February 2023.

The troubled project to develop a twin-engine plane for short-to-medium haul flights was ditched 10 years after the jet was due for commercial rollout, having suffered technical glitches and repeated delivery delays.

China showed off its first domestically produced passenger jet in Singapore last month, aiming to challenge the dominance of Airbus and Boeing with its single-aisle model.

Japan last launched a commercial airliner in 1962—the YS-11 turboprop that was discontinued about a decade later.

Hydrogen fuel does not emit carbon dioxide when burned, making it an exciting prospect for Japan which is targeting carbon neutrality by 2050.

But environment campaigners are skeptical about its use without a reliable supply chain for so-called “green” hydrogen, produced from renewable energy sources.

Other types of hydrogen fuel include “gray” hydrogen, made using greenhouse gas-emitting coal, petrol or gas, and “blue” hydrogen, which also comes from fossil fuels but with the carbon emissions captured and stored.

© 2024 AFP

Japan to unveil next-generation passenger plane project (2024, March 27)
retrieved 27 March 2024

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