Boeing will work with Japanese companies, universities and the government to develop technologies for next-generation lightweight electric aircraft. Partners include GS Yuasa for battery development and Sinfonia Technology and Tamagawa Seiki for the aeroplane’s engines.
The US-American company’s reliance on know-how from Japan was reported in an article from Japanese business paper Nikkei. The alliance will apparently start off by focussing primarily on electric propulsion.
This is where Boeing aims to cooperate with GS Yuasa with the goal of developing batteries specifically for use in aircraft. The two other companies, namely Sinfonia Technology and Tamagawa Seiki, have announced that they will add their expertise in the field of small engines. Kyushu University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology will be assisting the development of superconducting motors.
Later, carbon fibre specialist Toray Industries will work with Boeing to develop new materials to make the aircraft as light as possible. The company will also work with Mitsubishi Heavy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Subaru on automated production.
The Japanese government has put considerable focus on electric aviation and Tokyo has long been trying to promote the industry. In this respect, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will also intervene to promote ever closer ties between Boeing and Japanese industry and science.
One previous example of such cooperation is an industry consortium the government has been called for last summer. They are to realise electrified flying car technology and a total of 21 companies are said to be involved, including Uber, Airbus and Boeing.
Moreover and on a more definite note, Japan set up a consortium called ECLAIR (Electrification Challenge for Aircraft) that deals with electric planes of the bigger sort. Members include the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as well as industrial heavyweights from Mitsubishi over Kawasaki to Subaru.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey.