Japan relaunches hydrogen-powered plane project – 03/29/2024 – Market

Japan relaunches hydrogen-powered plane project – 03/29/2024 – Market


Japan officially relaunched on Wednesday (27) the project to build a next-generation commercial plane that will potentially run on hydrogen, according to Japanese media, a year after the abandonment of Mitsubishi Heavy’s SpaceJet commercial aircraft program. Industries (MHI).

The new project aims to commercialize a new generation aircraft by 2035, which will be developed by several private companies, including MHI, with significant support from the State, according to the economic daily Nikkei and the Kyodo news agency.

Public and private investments equivalent to more than €30 billion (R$161.8 billion) will be allocated to carry out the program, according to Nikkei.

Announcements on a “new strategy for the Japanese aviation industry” were expected on Wednesday from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti).

To achieve “sustainable growth” in its aircraft industry, Japan “cannot be complacent” with its current situation in the sector, where it is confined to the role of parts supplier, said Kazuchika Iwata, a Meti vice minister.

“In new business areas of carbon-neutral technologies, including hydrogen, we want to take a leading position,” he added.

Several hydrogen-powered aircraft projects are already in development around the world, including the “ZEROe” from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, which also aims to fly it by 2035.

Pillar of the energy transition

Hydrogen is a pillar of Japan’s energy transition strategy. Many companies in the country are already heavily involved in this area, including car manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda.

With the new aeronautical program that brings together an entire ecosystem of companies, Japan will try to learn lessons from the sad failure of SpaceJet, which MHI developed alone, with government support essentially limited to the “research” part.

Hampered by technical difficulties and more complex than expected certification procedures, the SpaceJet saw the development phase drag on, considerably inflating costs, before the Covid-19 pandemic dealt it the final blow.

After being frozen in 2020, the project was officially abandoned in February 2023 by MHI, which invested the equivalent of more than €8 million (R$43.1 million) in this catastrophe.

The SpaceJet would be the first “made in Japan” civilian aircraft since the YS-11, an earlier short-haul aircraft produced in the 1960s and 1970s.


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