Electric power set to bolster the future of global aviation industry
In the summer of 2018, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched a consortium to bring about airplanes featuring electrification technology. The consortium saw the participation of 50 entities, including IHI Corp., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Subaru Corp. and Hitachi Ltd.
About 400 people took part in a forum organized by the consortium at the end of last year. Just one-fourth of the participants were from aviation-related companies; the rest were from firms working in the automobile, railway and machinery industries, among others, that have no connections with the aviation field. This served as a fresh reminder of the increased interest in the move toward electrification. Potential suppliers of next-generation technology could come out of these companies and an international division of labor might be established.
Boeing’s commitment to Japan
The METI Journal interviewed Boeing’s Hyslop about his thoughts on Japan when his company announced its collaborative approach with Japanese firms for the development of next-generation airplanes.
Question: Historically, Boeing and Japan have had a strong relationship. Could you tell us the aim of promoting ties with METI and Japanese companies?
Hyslop: For Boeing, Japan is precisely a special country. The history of Boeing’s partnership with Japanese industry spans over 60 years, and Japan is Boeing’s biggest partner country in the world excluding the United States. Japanese companies have become essential partners for the success of our state-of-the-art Boeing 787 and 777 airplanes.
Japanese companies in collaborative relations with us constantly retain the highest standard of quality and commitment to the success of their partnership with Boeing, and to a wide range of Boeing programs. So, it’s natural for us to pay attention to Japan when seeking new collaborative relationships and to deepen our existing partnerships.
New technology with Japan
Question: We understand that a wave of new technological innovation such as flying vehicles would boost the aerospace industry. How do you view the situation?
Hyslop: The support provided by METI to the Japanese aerospace industry is extremely important for the international aerospace community as well. We are looking forward to jointly promoting fresh technological collaboration in such areas as electrification, hybrid electric propulsion, batteries and composite production to bring about new transportation means in the future.
Question: What other kind of technology is Boeing focusing on?
Hyslop: We are focused on automation technology. The introduction of such technology would certainly be a strength for Boeing and our partners in today’s competitive market environment.
Question: Which of Japan’s technical strengths do you particularly pay attention to in realizing electric aircraft?
Hyslop: Japan is on the leading edge of technological areas that are necessary to develop electric aircrafts, including battery, motor and power electronics. Some Japanese companies can be regarded as leaders in these areas.
Boeing promotes cooperation with Japan to address various issues surrounding electric aircrafts such as scalability, reliability, cost, weight, size and efficiency.