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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Japan a partner in passenger jet project

Associated Press

TOKYO The Japanese government is planning to develop the country's first passenger jet in a joint venture with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and subsidize up to 30 percent of the costs, a newspaper reported today.

The proposed airliner will come in 72- and 92-seat versions and enter service in 2012, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said, without saying where it got the information. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is leading the project, which is expected to cost $1.03 billion, the report said.

The project would be Japan's first venture into a lucrative commercial aircraft market controlled mostly by U.S.-based Boeing Co. and Europe's Airbus. Japan has no homegrown large-scale aircraft maker, although Japanese manufacturers have been supplying Boeing with parts for decades.

The airliner would aim to be at least 20 percent more fuel efficient than competing aircraft, the newspaper said.

Mitsubishi Heavy and its partners plan to begin market research by year's end to determine next year whether to go ahead with the project, the Nihon Keizai said. Between 50 and 100 aircraft are expected to be made and sold each year.

Mitsubishi Heavy believes 350 to 600 aircraft orders are needed for the project to be profitable, the report said.

Rolls-Royce PLC will likely supply the aircraft engines, it said.