The Japanese government is promoting technological cooperation between local industry and Boeing in aircraft electrification and high-rate composites manufacturing, aiming at 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 the director of the ministry’s aerospace and defense industry division, Hiroyuki Hatada. 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 reach 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.

Also close is the use of new techniques for making composites more quickly and more cheaply; low costs can follow from fast production rates.

A third area of technology in the Boeing agreement is greater automation in aircraft manufacturing, with obvious value to increasing production rates.

This is an abbreviated version of an article that appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report by Bradley Perrett. Get in-depth details about the Boeing agreement in the full article. Login or subscribe to access the full article here.