Japan may make Boeing's Dreamliner national project

28 August 2003

The Japanese government is likely to designate Boeing's planned next-generation commercial passenger jet, the 7E7 ""Dreamliner"", a national project.

Japan's big three heavy machinery makers -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd -- are lobbying for this as they could then get Japanese state subsidies and low-interest loans to help develop the fuel-efficient, medium-sized aircraft.

""It's highly likely that the government will make such a decision,"" said the source. Boeing's 777 and 767 planes were both designated national projects. The makers and the industry body, Japan Aircraft Development Corp, have requested that the government earmark funds to support the project in next fiscal year's budget, the source said. Japanese ministries are to make initial budget requests for next fiscal year to the Finance Ministry by the end of this month.

The 200-250-seater 7E7, nicknamed the ""Dreamliner"", is touted as a highly efficient airplane that will use lightweight but durable composite material made of carbon fibre and resin.

The three Japanese makers, along with Italy's Alenia Aeronautica and U.S.'s Vought Aircraft Industries, are candidates to design and build the 7E7 airframe. Alenia Aeronautica is a unit of Italian state-controlled defence and engineering group Finmeccanica . It already builds wing components for other Boeing planes. Dallas-based Vought Aircraft is a privately owned company. Mitsubishi currently makes fuselage panels for the B767.

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