Japan moves into the supersonic passenger aircraft race

June 17, 2021

Japan’s major engineering companies are combing resources with Japan’s space agency to design a 50-passenger supersonic jet.

According to Nikkei Asia the new public-private initiative, Japan Supersonic Research, was announced Wednesday.

Members of the consortia are, IHI, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Subaru and Japan Aircraft Development Corp.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has worked for over a decade on the sonic boom issue and has developed a streamlined aircraft design with a long, sharply pointed nose to minimize booms.

Nikkei Asia says that JAXA had succeeded in reducing fuel consumption by 13 percent compared with the technology used in the Concorde through such steps as reducing air friction. It has also made the aircraft 21 percent lighter overall and is running trials to determine the impact on fuel requirements.

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Masahiro Kanazaki, a professor at the aeronautics and astronautics department of Tokyo Metropolitan University, says that the Japanese players have a chance to come out ahead in the supersonic race.

“JAXA and others in Japan have accumulated some of the world’s highest-level technology and research for supersonic aircraft,” Mr Kanazaki said.

JAXA says “we aim at the accomplishment of technical targets, which play key roles in the realization of small supersonic passenger aircraft (Mach 1.6, 36–50 passengers, 70-ton class takeoff weight, cruising distance greater than 3,500 nm (about 6,300 km)) and the presentation of the airframe concept.