Jun 16, 2014

Boeing, JADC, JAI ink deal on B777X development and production

Contract signing and press conference held by the seven partners in Tokyo

Boeing, the Japan Aircraft Development Corp. (JADC) and five Japan Aircraft Industries (JAI), which is a consortium made up of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), ShinMaywa Industries and Nippi Corp., have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on June 12 concerning the key contract terms and conditions in relation to their participation in the project to develop and mass-produce the B777X aircraft. JAI will manufacture about 21% of the major structural parts of the B777X planes. Contract signing among the seven partners and a joint press briefing were held in Tokyo on June 12.

Raymond L. Conner, vice-chairman of Boeing and president/CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, claimed that, "Our partnership with Japanese companies spans more than 60 years. We want to further strengthen that in the future," adding that, "We hope to achieve success in the B777X in the same way we succeeded in our B787 aircraft program (that was jointly advanced with the five companies)." Parts procurement from the Japanese-affiliated firms for the B777X aircrafts is expected to reach about $36 billion in the next six years, equivalent to the price of parts and materials that it has purchased from Japanese enterprises in the last 60 years or so. The JAI are apparently eyeing expansion of and promotion of investments in their own bases toward the development of the appropriate production system.

The press briefing was attended by Conner (center, front row), Anthony Kent Fisher, vice-president and supply management in-charge (right, front row), Hideaki Omiya, president of JADC and chairman of MHI (left, front row), Yukio Hayano, president of Nippi Corp. (left, back row), Munenori Ishikawa, managing executive officer and president of Aerospace Co. at KHI (second from left, back row), Yoichi Kujirai, executive vice-president of MHI (center, back row), Hisashi Nagano, executive vice-president of FHI and president of Aerospace Co. (second from right, back row), and Kanji Ishimaru, managing director of ShiMaywa (right, back row).

The supply of the structural parts for the B777X aircrafts will basically follow the same designated shares of each company in the current supply of parts for the B777. MHI will manufacture and supply the rear part/back fuselage and passenger doors, while KHI will handle the same for the front/center fuselage, main landing gears, cargo doors and pressure bulkheads, FHI will take care of the center wing sections, center wing/main handling gear joints, main landing gear doors and wing-body fairings (front), ShinMaywa will handle the wing-body fairings (center/back), and Nippi will take charge of the main wing components. The B777X will be bigger than the conventional aircrafts owing to the extension of its body. In light of this, the production scales of the JAI will be bigger than the current scales for the B777 aircrafts.

The top executives of the manufacturers that were present at the press briefing explained about their respective production systems. MHI's Kujirai claimed that, "We are fabricating the B777 aircrafts at our Hiroshima plant. We need to expand our plant in order to accommodate the production of the B777X." KHI's Ishikawa said that, "We will use the current Gifu and Nagoya plants." Meanwhile, FHI's Nagano explained that, "The center wing is the biggest part we are supplying for the B777. We will build a new production system at the soldering plant of Rinkai Works." ShinMaywa's Ishimaru said that, "We are currently conducting studies (on the production system). We want to minimize investments and promote production rationalization/automation." Finally, Nippi's Hayano claimed that, "We produce the parts for the B777 at our Yokohama plant. We will use that plant for the time being, but we will also eye further investments in the future after taking into account such factors as the environment."

The B777X aircrafts are slated to begin production in 2017, with the first unit due to be delivered in 2020.

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