There is no other industry more international than commercial aircraft, and the trend toward further internationalization is increasing. The primary reason for this trend is the enormous cost of development. One company, or even one country, cannot cope with the risk and the cost of developing a new commercial transport. Another factor contributing to internationalization is "off-set" deals made between aircraft manufacturers and countries with airlines buying airplanes worth billions of dollars. Internationalization is affecting composite technologies directly and indirectly. Currently many Japanese aircraft manufacturers are producing composite parts and components for Boeing and Douglas.

In 1986 a revision was made to the Japanese Aircraft Industry Promotion Law. The revision stipulates that the Japanese government can provide development support for aircraft only in the case of international cooperative development projects. The law provides two justifications for international cooperation:

  1. Cooperative international development is necessary because of the great risk involved in aircraft development.
  2. A primary goal of Japanese policy is to encourage international exchanges of technology.

Currently, there are two major programs in which the Japanese aircraft consortium is taking part. They are the Boeing B-777 (21% share) and the IAE V-2500 engine (23% share). MITI has already announced plans for future international cooperative programs:

  1. YXX 150-seat medium size transport
  2. YSX 50-100 seat small to medium size transport
  3. High Speed Civil Transport (HSCT)
  4. Ultra Large Aircraft (Super Jumbo)
  5. Engine Development for HSCT

In addition to the Japanese government, Japanese aerospace companies also realize the importance of international cooperation and collaboration. Some Japanese companies report that their manufacturing technologies have already been transferred or are being transferred to several American companies, notably MHI's sophisticated large structure co-cure technology to General Dynamics (now Lockheed). It is expected that technological transfers from Japan to the U.S. will continue in the coming years. However, the success of these transfers will be highly dependent upon human factors, e.g., the willingness of U.S. companies, particularly their upper management, to accept the technology.

Published: April 1994; WTEC Hyper-Librarian