It Took Japan 50 Years To Make Its First Commercial Aircraft

“This will give a big lift to Japan’s aviation industry,” said Akihito Nishimura, a Vice Minister of Transport.

For more than 50 years, Japan has been a giant in many essential industries, from car, high-speed transportation, electronic appliances to artificial technology, etc. But they have never a big name in the aviation industry due to the WWII ban that has been preventing them from showing their skills. And now, Japan’s first commercial jet is ready to be presented to the world.

p5_visDeveloped by a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries that includes Toyota Corp as a shareholder, the $42-million regional aircraft with just fewer than 100 seats, is Japan’s second bid to break into the commercial airplane market, after the fail of its last attempt in the 1960s, with a 64-seat turboprop dubbed the YS-11. Only 182 planes, built by a consortium that included Mitsubishi Heavy, were ever made.

“For decades, we were confined to supplying parts for other passenger jets. But we’re finally heading into new territory,” said Mr. Teruaki Kawai, President of the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation.

So far, the company has won 191 firm orders from customers, including U.S. regional groups Trans States Holdings and SkyWest Inc., and Japan Airlines Co Ltd., which is amid doubts it can attain an ambition to sell more than 2,000 aircrafts in a competitive market segment. Mitsubishi’s direct competitor, Canada’s Bombardier, estimates demand for 5,000 regional jets over the next 20 years, of which it aims to capture half. Ascend puts its prospects closer to a fifth and forecasts a market for 4,071 jets worth $128.3 billion by 2033. Mitsubishi Regional Jet’s (MRJ) biggest success could be helping the Japanese industry win component supply deals because it will prove to Boeing and Airbus Group that Japan is capable of taking on more work. “Despite delays, the MRJ is still poised to be first to the regional jet market with a next-generation engine,” said Richard Aboulafia, a Vice President of Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant.

“I was in Japan a couple of months ago, and I saw a preview for the movie Pearl Harbor. And they showed the Japanese airplanes coming in to bomb Pearl Harbor, and I applauded [the technology]. Nobody else in the theater applauded.” – Bobby Fischer. If Bobby Fisher were still alive, he would, once again, applaud for Japan’s aviation accomplishments.

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