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LaunchDetected
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What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 5:59 am

Hi everyone,

Looking at the future projects of Embraer made me wonder why Japan, a super-industrialized country at the forefront of technological progress, was not able to manage a successful civilian aircraft program since the end of WW2. While Airbus and Boeing are unrealistic "role models", it is surprising to see Japan fail where Canada and Brazil succeeded.

To summarise the post-war Japanese civilian market efforts:
- NAMS YS-11 (1962), 182 frames built, considered as a commercial failure
- Mitsubishi SpaceJet (2015), program "indefinitely paused"
- Key supplier for Boeing (35% of 787 is made in Japan), Airbus and engine manufacturers (IHI)

Are the specific requirements of airliner program management unattainable for Japanese industrial complex?
Or maybe am I taking this question wrong, and Brazil is pushing exceptionnaly above its weight with Embraer?

 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 6:07 am

Because it's really really hard and expensive. So unless someone is willing to spend a lot of money over decades to build up the knowledge and track record needed, you won't just create one.
 
Theseus
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 6:51 am

Also, as you noted, Japan builds 35% of 787 parts, which means Boeing + US suppliers do not make a full plane either. Actually, all aircraft programmes in US or EU share the work across many countries and companies. And in this point of view, Japan does very well.
 
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Polot
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 8:59 am

Western certification knowledge, or lack thereof, is Japan’s biggest issue and what killed the Superjet. Apparently there was a bit of “my way or the highway” when it came to the aircraft even after they were warned by western consultants that design wouldn’t pass western certification or Mitsubishi wasn’t properly documenting things. This resulted in an aircraft requiring extensive redesign after first examples already built because it was uncertifiable in its current state.

Airbus and Boeing (despite their issues) have vast institutional knowledge on what the FAA and EASA require and expect and how to get through certification process.
 
casperCA
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 2:58 pm

Polot wrote:
Western certification knowledge, or lack thereof, is Japan’s biggest issue and what killed the Superjet. Apparently there was a bit of “my way or the highway” when it came to the aircraft even after they were warned by western consultants that design wouldn’t pass western certification or Mitsubishi wasn’t properly documenting things. This resulted in an aircraft requiring extensive redesign after first examples already built because it was uncertifiable in its current state.

Airbus and Boeing (despite their issues) have vast institutional knowledge on what the FAA and EASA require and expect and how to get through certification process.


Given the purchase of the CRJ business by Mitsubishi what remains to be seen is how the teams in Canada and Japan collaborate (or don't collaborate). Perhaps a Canadian designed and certified jet manufactured in Japan would do better.
 
2175301
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 3:19 pm

The reason the Mitsubishi SpaceJet failed was that the Japaneses did not understand that you had to start the regulatory process up front with the start of the design and manufacturing. That you could not post design and post production certify things.

It comes from a lack of understanding the regulatory process and with a strong amount of ego that they are experts and know what they are doing.

I've personally dealt with a major Japanese company that made heat exchangers for power plants on a $20 Million in heat exchangers replacement project (with another $20+ million in labor cost to remove the old and install the new ones). They considered that their standards were so much better than the ASME standards that they just crossed out all references to ASME standard and substituted their Japanese standards instead (US Law requires that pressure vessels meet ASME code). They also refused to consider the better tube materials for my application than what I specified - and insisted that their use of 304 SS was the best material for all of our plant's heat exchangers. Japanese Engineers with 40 years of heat exchanger experience had never ever used any other tube materials than 304 SS - and tried to explain why it was superior to everything else out there in the world for my application. 304 SS is great for some things, and quickly fails for other things, and in my case would likely fail from fatigue cracking in 10-15 years (I specified an alloy which would not fatigue crack for well beyond the expected future life of the plant) - which is why there are several dozen different common tube alloys used in heat exchangers in the world (copper, brass, copper nickel, steel, common stainless steels, "super ferritic" stainless steels, to inconel, etc) with multiple grades of each alloy. Needless to say their bid was dropped from the consideration list (and then they requested to know why and tried to explain that their heat exchanger standards were better than the ASME standards, ignoring my pointing out that legally I could only install heat exchangers that met ASME standards).

Such ignorance and ego combined is a dangerous combination for industrial design companies. As I followed the SpaceJet saga... I saw many of the same thought patterns and heard many of the same comments from Mitsubishi engineers and executives. They knew better.... until it was obvious that they did not and could not certify the aircraft without going back and starting over on many things.
 
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hongkongflyer
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 4:15 pm

But why can’t Japanese do the certification by themselves according to their standards then other regulators just follow and approve it? Like what FAA and rest of the world did for Boeing’s model. Given the relationship between Japan and USA, I don’t think they will face the “ Mutual consent problem” like the Chinese ARJ21 C919 facing and once FAA approved it then rest of the world will more likely give it a green light.
 
ScottB
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 4:39 pm

hongkongflyer wrote:
But why can’t Japanese do the certification by themselves according to their standards then other regulators just follow and approve it? Like what FAA and rest of the world did for Boeing’s model. Given the relationship between Japan and USA, I don’t think they will face the “ Mutual consent problem” like the Chinese ARJ21 C919 facing and once FAA approved it then rest of the world will more likely give it a green light.


Because the rest of the world's regulators aren't going to rubber-stamp Japanese approval of a new type just because of close foreign relations. EASA and FAA have a long history and trust the decisions made by their counterpart due to a long track record of safety. If anything, FAA has been pushing hard on Boeing precisely to maintain its own reputation. For an agency with relatively limited experience in certifying new civilian aircraft, FAA and EASA are going to want to be comfortable that the type in question is one that they would have been willing to certify themselves.
 
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Polot
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 4:50 pm

hongkongflyer wrote:
But why can’t Japanese do the certification by themselves according to their standards then other regulators just follow and approve it? Like what FAA and rest of the world did for Boeing’s model. Given the relationship between Japan and USA, I don’t think they will face the “ Mutual consent problem” like the Chinese ARJ21 C919 facing and once FAA approved it then rest of the world will more likely give it a green light.

Japan can certify it themselves if they want. But a US airline requires FAA certification to fly a plane and a European airlines requires EASA certification to fly a plane, and both markets are far larger than Japan’s.

“Mutual approval” (or whatever you want to call it) is not just built on good relations between countries but on decades of trust that the other standard is as rigorous and safe as yours. Japan doesn’t have that because they have so few home grown commercial products. Even then there are differences between EASA and FAA standards, for example, where Airbus or Boeing must meet both (or successfully argue for a waiver with one) in order to get approval from both agencies. It’s not a complete blind approval process.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 6:31 pm

2175301 wrote:
The reason the Mitsubishi SpaceJet failed was that the Japaneses did not understand that you had to start the regulatory process up front with the start of the design and manufacturing. That you could not post design and post production certify things.

It comes from a lack of understanding the regulatory process and with a strong amount of ego that they are experts and know what they are doing.

I've personally dealt with a major Japanese company that made heat exchangers for power plants on a $20 Million in heat exchangers replacement project (with another $20+ million in labor cost to remove the old and install the new ones). They considered that their standards were so much better than the ASME standards that they just crossed out all references to ASME standard and substituted their Japanese standards instead (US Law requires that pressure vessels meet ASME code). They also refused to consider the better tube materials for my application than what I specified - and insisted that their use of 304 SS was the best material for all of our plant's heat exchangers. Japanese Engineers with 40 years of heat exchanger experience had never ever used any other tube materials than 304 SS - and tried to explain why it was superior to everything else out there in the world for my application. 304 SS is great for some things, and quickly fails for other things, and in my case would likely fail from fatigue cracking in 10-15 years (I specified an alloy which would not fatigue crack for well beyond the expected future life of the plant) - which is why there are several dozen different common tube alloys used in heat exchangers in the world (copper, brass, copper nickel, steel, common stainless steels, "super ferritic" stainless steels, to inconel, etc) with multiple grades of each alloy. Needless to say their bid was dropped from the consideration list (and then they requested to know why and tried to explain that their heat exchanger standards were better than the ASME standards, ignoring my pointing out that legally I could only install heat exchangers that met ASME standards).

Such ignorance and ego combined is a dangerous combination for industrial design companies. As I followed the SpaceJet saga... I saw many of the same thought patterns and heard many of the same comments from Mitsubishi engineers and executives. They knew better.... until it was obvious that they did not and could not certify the aircraft without going back and starting over on many things.


It is for the customer to decide what he wants in the proposal. I design FRP tanks, some customers want TP304 SS for the anchor lugs, others want TP316, still others want Hasteloy or Titanium. It's their choice, but those choices affect cost. Quite appropriate to not accept proposals that do not comply.

MHI seemed to be more toward automotive quality standards, not aviation quality. Often it is the difference in traceability, do we know the exact heat of metal has been used with all the test certs on file for that part. It doesn't work in aviation to declare, we have test reports for all our metals purchased and they meet specs. The traceability is there so if there are problems with a part, all parts from that batch of metal can be traced back and removed.

A woman inspector at a Tacoma, WA foundry went to jail because she felt the very cold test temperature (-100F) was silly and was more than the labs freezer could obtain. So she did the test at a higher temperature to be easier. However, with many steel alloys there are a number of different solid phases, the specification wanted to test the worst of the solid phases for brittleness. She falsified over 240 tests over 32 years. It took 25 man-years to investigate whether the parts from the foundry were SUBSAFE.

https://news.usni.org/2020/06/19/navy-h ... fraud-case

https://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/20 ... 778857001/

Aviation certification works on similar standards, doing something less is non-compliant.
 
mikejepp
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 7:56 pm

You mentioned civil aircraft and I would say the HondaJet has been successful. Would it be considered Japanese or American?

Also, not civilian but military.... it is too bad the Kawasaki C-2 has not had more success. As far as I know, it is the largest western airlifter in production and a pretty impressive airplane.
 
SL1200MK2
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 8:12 pm

mikejepp wrote:
You mentioned civil aircraft and I would say the HondaJet has been successful. Would it be considered Japanese or American?

Also, not civilian but military.... it is too bad the Kawasaki C-2 has not had more success. As far as I know, it is the largest western airlifter in production and a pretty impressive airplane.


While it’s been a while since it was actually Mitsubishi, the MU-300 Diamond ended up being a pretty cool jet.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 8:29 pm

SL1200MK2 wrote:
mikejepp wrote:
You mentioned civil aircraft and I would say the HondaJet has been successful. Would it be considered Japanese or American?

Also, not civilian but military.... it is too bad the Kawasaki C-2 has not had more success. As far as I know, it is the largest western airlifter in production and a pretty impressive airplane.


While it’s been a while since it was actually Mitsubishi, the MU-300 Diamond ended up being a pretty cool jet.


Pretty much hated by anyone that had to fly it.
 
YYZYYT
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 8:33 pm

LaunchDetected wrote:
Hi everyone,

Looking at the future projects of Embraer made me wonder why Japan, a super-industrialized country at the forefront of technological progress, was not able to manage a successful civilian aircraft program since the end of WW2. While Airbus and Boeing are unrealistic "role models", it is surprising to see Japan fail where Canada and Brazil succeeded.



I'd argue it's a stretch to say that Canada succeeded on its own. While the original Bombardier is a distinctly Canadian company with a uniquely Canadian product, the aviation side was much less so. Bombardier aviation was a result of the merger of many companies which were in the biz jet and regional transport business, that had roots elsewhere.... I can think of the Canadian operations of De Havilland and Vickers (both British, and DH even owned by Boeing for a time if I recall correctly), Shorts Brothers (Ireland or Northern Ireland), and Learjet (American).

As others have pointed out, it takes a global village to raise a baby airplane.
 
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Polot
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 8:42 pm

mikejepp wrote:
You mentioned civil aircraft and I would say the HondaJet has been successful. Would it be considered Japanese or American?


Look how long it took the HondaJet to get certified though- first flight in 2003…certification in 2015. And this was after ~20 years of research before first flight.

That was acceptable to Honda though as the jet was very much seen as experimental for research purposes only. It wasn’t until 2006 that it was decided to commercialize the product, and even then it was significantly delayed (deliveries were originally suppose to begin in 2010). And Honda benefited with having the major design and production engineers in the same location as flight testing (unlike the Space Jet).

If Covid never happened Mitsubishi would probably still be going for FAA certification with the Spacejet and they would have eventually gotten there (it’s not impossible), just spending a lot more time and money then they were expecting at program launch.
 
SL1200MK2
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 09, 2022 8:49 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
SL1200MK2 wrote:
mikejepp wrote:
You mentioned civil aircraft and I would say the HondaJet has been successful. Would it be considered Japanese or American?

Also, not civilian but military.... it is too bad the Kawasaki C-2 has not had more success. As far as I know, it is the largest western airlifter in production and a pretty impressive airplane.


While it’s been a while since it was actually Mitsubishi, the MU-300 Diamond ended up being a pretty cool jet.


Pretty much hated by anyone that had to fly it.


I really find these perspectives interesting in that I sell loads of flights on the Beechjet and Nextant and the pax seem to enjoy them. However, this says little about pilots’ experience. Mind sharing a bit of what was disliked? Was it just the MU-300 or were the following variants just as unpleasant to fly?

Thank you!
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 10, 2022 2:10 pm

Also Airbus and Boeing have produced phenomenally successful economical models over the last 40 years, leaving only a few niches. Brazil and Canadian companies aimed at those niches, but the economics have been dicey. China and Russia have aimed at the centers of the market and thus far hardly only better than duds. Part of Mitsubishi's mishaps was not knowing or seeing any really good niche in which to get a good start at competing with the big two. Airbus got its start, in large part, with the 300s, often dismissed and trashed. But it was a good niche and Airbus built on its success.
 
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NameOmitted
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 10, 2022 3:37 pm

As a coronary to the building thesis of this thread, is a reason the Space Jet had such exciting early publicity because the claims were made on purely engineering assumptions?
 
Velocirapture
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 10, 2022 3:53 pm

Theseus wrote:
Also, as you noted, Japan builds 35% of 787 parts, which means Boeing + US suppliers do not make a full plane either. Actually, all aircraft programmes in US or EU share the work across many countries and companies. And in this point of view, Japan does very well.


Is the 787 the only airplane that Boeing builds?

How much of the 737Max are built in Japan?

Same question for the 767s and 777s.

Japan is a fascinating and very, very capable country, but it has it's struggles, too (as does every country).
 
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Polot
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 10, 2022 4:08 pm

NameOmitted wrote:
As a coronary to the building thesis of this thread, is a reason the Space Jet had such exciting early publicity because the claims were made on purely engineering assumptions?

I think it was mostly just because Mitsubishi was a new entrant. When they rebranded and relaunched from MRJ -> Spacejet they were also only ones with a (projected of course) next gen aircraft that meets US scope clauses.


Early claims for any aircraft have a ton of engineering assumptions built into them. That’s why touted capabilities (of any aircraft) generally change a lot from program launch to EIS.
 
bluecrew
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 10, 2022 4:50 pm

LaunchDetected wrote:
- Mitsubishi SpaceJet (2015), program "indefinitely paused"


It's fully canceled. They spun down the contractors and everything - a lot of the software development was being done stateside, during COVID they closed up shop.

I'd be shocked if you hear anything about the MRJ again. The jiggle on the orders and lack of firm commitments, competition from the A220 and E2, probably reinforced for them that there would be a limited commercial opportunity even if they sunk the rest of the development costs into it.
 
ewt340
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 10, 2022 5:19 pm

Japan isn't known for being Meritocracy. I've seen soo many instances where Family and business connections gets you the job you don't deserve. It's not surprising that these massive projects failed.
 
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AirKevin
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Fri Aug 12, 2022 6:58 pm

Velocirapture wrote:
Theseus wrote:
Also, as you noted, Japan builds 35% of 787 parts, which means Boeing + US suppliers do not make a full plane either. Actually, all aircraft programmes in US or EU share the work across many countries and companies. And in this point of view, Japan does very well.


Is the 787 the only airplane that Boeing builds?

How much of the 737Max are built in Japan?

Same question for the 767s and 777s.

Japan is a fascinating and very, very capable country, but it has it's struggles, too (as does every country).

What do you mean by build. As far as I know, certain components of the aircraft are built in Japan. They don't build whole airplanes there.
 
strfyr51
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Fri Aug 12, 2022 8:13 pm

Polot wrote:
NameOmitted wrote:
As a coronary to the building thesis of this thread, is a reason the Space Jet had such exciting early publicity because the claims were made on purely engineering assumptions?

I think it was mostly just because Mitsubishi was a new entrant. When they rebranded and relaunched from MRJ -> Spacejet they were also only ones with a (projected of course) next gen aircraft that meets US scope clauses.


Early claims for any aircraft have a ton of engineering assumptions built into them. That’s why touted capabilities (of any aircraft) generally change a lot from program launch to EIS.


The Japanese are very capable However? They know what they know. and what they don't know? They have a hard time learning. If it's already written? The native Japanese can recite it in it's entirety. However? If it has to BE written? They have trouble thinking out of the "Box" Having been stationed in Japan? and having been around many of their military? They Know what they know and they know it COLD. But new or untraditional ideas? They do not take to easily. Case in Point.
Japan was overhauling aircraft components for airlines all over the world. it was found out they were adding to or changing components without documentation using procedures they didn't want to share with the FAA for any US registered airplanes. ERGO? they FAA made the airlines remove the Japanese modified parts.
I have no idea what happened to airplanes in the rest of the world. Nor? Even in Japan. But I found this on an FAA bulletin. So? I don't find it strange that the CRJ program was bought from Bombardier and shipped to Japan. Maybe by the Japanese studying the paperwork from Bombardier. they can glean what they need to, to certify their own indigenous designs and be able to sell their airplanes in the USA. if Bombardier can do it? and Embraer can do it? Then they should be able to as well.
 
Jungleneer
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Fri Aug 12, 2022 11:19 pm

Part 25/121 certification is tough. And it is more than just complying with regulations, it is related to the companies internal processes and confidence. It is needed years to build this confidence, and you should start low, with a very small airliner, to tryout this before going into a very complex and risky jet. Also, the commercial aviation market is a blood bath dictated by the big two, with very small profit margin, leaving no space for mistakes. Either you stay very low on costs, absorbing a small niche, or go on a head to head competition with the big two.
 
AirlineBob
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sat Aug 13, 2022 8:12 pm

I recall Mitsubishi brought the MRJ over to Moses Lake, and hired on AeroTec, a Seattle consulting firm to help with certification.

I didn't follow all of it very closely, but some of the comments here ring true. It did indeed sounds like Mitsubishi expected to design and build the aircraft in a vacuum, with not a lot of input from anyone familiar with US certification standards. Almost as if they expected to do a quick touch-and-go out at Moses Lake, fly off all of the certification hurdles, and then move into production.

Sad to see the program fold.
 
F9Animal
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 1:21 am

Wow, I am just learning the MRJ is done. Does anyone think something might spark back up when things get better? It has to be frustrating spending all that money and time on the project just to pull the plug.
 
strfyr51
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 2:23 am

F9Animal wrote:
Wow, I am just learning the MRJ is done. Does anyone think something might spark back up when things get better? It has to be frustrating spending all that money and time on the project just to pull the plug.

if the MRJ needs help? then Mitsubishi should seek it out. That is? If they intend to even Build an airliner. Since the CRJ is nearly done and Mitsu owns the documentation? They have all they need in systems to apply that to the MRJ. If they just want to give up? Then why buy the CRJ in the first place?
 
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lightsaber
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 2:57 am

YYZYYT wrote:
As others have pointed out, it takes a global village to raise a baby airplane.

This sums it up. While many nations can produce an aircraft on its own, the failures fail to reach out for expertise.

Materials alone are far more complicated than 40 years ago. Add dynamic analysis, fatigue theory, and tracking pedigree...

Lightsaber
 
DFW17L
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 3:10 am

I’ve heard said Boeing came close to selling the tooling for the 737 to Japan. Airline deregulation changed that.
 
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ordell
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 4:25 am

strfyr51 wrote:
F9Animal wrote:
Wow, I am just learning the MRJ is done. Does anyone think something might spark back up when things get better? It has to be frustrating spending all that money and time on the project just to pull the plug.

if the MRJ needs help? then Mitsubishi should seek it out. That is? If they intend to even Build an airliner. Since the CRJ is nearly done and Mitsu owns the documentation? They have all they need in systems to apply that to the MRJ. If they just want to give up? Then why buy the CRJ in the first place?


Japan, bless their xenophobic hearts, doesn't play well with others. They thought they could get by on the MRJ program all by themselves, like everything else they do. When they finally asked for help it was way too late.
 
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zeke
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 8:08 am

Velocirapture wrote:

Is the 787 the only airplane that Boeing builds?

How much of the 737Max are built in Japan?

Same question for the 767s and 777s.

Japan is a fascinating and very, very capable country, but it has it's struggles, too (as does every country).


A significant amount of all Boeing models is built in Japan, my guess would be around 20% . I had a report at one stage of the breakdown by type it was eye watering. What was also eye watering was the amount of money the Japanese government threw at those projects to win those work packages.
 
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zeke
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 8:13 am

F9Animal wrote:
Does anyone think something might spark back up when things get better? It has to be frustrating spending all that money and time on the project just to pull the plug.


They hired a lot of people with experience from overseas to help with the certification and flight testing, some of my friends were involved. They were all terminated by Mitsubishi, a lot of them then moved onto the CS100. Mitsubishi ended buying the CRJ type certificate.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 2:21 pm

A lot of the CS100 guys were at Moses Lake as part of the CRJ sale. One told me the MRJ was uncertifiable.
 
ReverseFlow
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 2:22 pm

zeke wrote:
F9Animal wrote:
Does anyone think something might spark back up when things get better? It has to be frustrating spending all that money and time on the project just to pull the plug.


They hired a lot of people with experience from overseas to help with the certification and flight testing, some of my friends were involved. They were all terminated by Mitsubishi, a lot of them then moved onto the CS100. Mitsubishi ended buying the CRJ type certificate.
I know people who went the other way. First C-Series and then MRJ.
And now mostly at electric start-ups.
 
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Pythagoras
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Sun Aug 14, 2022 8:40 pm

I would caution about making generalizations about a country as a whole. The statement "What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?" begs the question because it presumes that Mitsubishi's failure with the MRJ is representative of the country as a whole. From my knothole, it seems like the failure here is entirely Mitsubishi management's combination of hubris in over-estimating their own knowledge and subsequent incompetence in hiring the wrong people to get them out of the hole that they dug.

I spent time in my early career working with the three heavies, most closely with Fuji/Subaru, including about a 2 year time span being located on-site at research facilities in Japan. One difference that I noted between Japanese and US companies is that Japanese companies are much more focused on planning and scheduling, whereas US companies are not as much. US companies and their management are more willing to chart a path where there is a degree of uncertainty in work statement or scope. A Japanese company is highly focused on schedules and milestones. The reason for this characteristic is that Japanese companies are much smaller than US companies and there is not as much ability to bring in extra resources or head count when things do not go to plan. To complete a project on schedule, one therefore has to spend quite a lot of time on work statement development and risk reduction.

The criticism with the YS-11 was that the airplane was technically a good airplane but the wrong airplane to build at that time as the industry was moving to turbine aircraft. The Japanese government and industry was late to the realization that the airplane was not going to be successful under changing technology and stuck with the plan rather than cut its losses. This would support the narrative that it is a Japanese characteristic to build a detailed plan and to not deviate as circumstances change.

Another criticism of why Japan has not been successful in commercial airplanes is that it lacks a domestic market and thus starts from a disadvantage in understanding customer requirements. Additionally, Japanese airline requirements may not align well with customer requirements outside of Japan. Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, and Embraer from the outset have a understanding of what the customers might need in flight deck, ground operations, cabin, maintenance, etc. Japan industry has extensive experience in the manufacturing of components for aviation, less so in understanding customer requirements and flowing down those requirements into detail design.

I have the impression that Honda is culturally different than the other Japanese companies. Fuji/Subaru, Kawasaki, and Mitsubishi are industrial conglomerates with multiple business line. These three companies are also Japanese military contractors and will prioritize the guaranteed profits of government contracts above those of commercial endeavors. Mitsubishi put their "B" team on the 777 airplane program when they were simultaneously developing the F-2, and Boeing had to bail them out with an army of engineers to install system brackets in the fuselage. Kawasaki did the same thing on the 787 program where they were preoccupied with the C-2 transport, which necessitated KHI outsourcing much of its engineering responsibility to KAL.
 
mxaxai
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 11:27 am

Velocirapture wrote:
Same question for the 767s and 777s.

About 21% of each 777 is made in Japan.
Mitsubishi offered to build the 777X wings in Japan but Boeing kept the production in Washington after signing new contracts with their workers there.
 
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Polot
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 12:02 pm

ReverseFlow wrote:
zeke wrote:
F9Animal wrote:
Does anyone think something might spark back up when things get better? It has to be frustrating spending all that money and time on the project just to pull the plug.


They hired a lot of people with experience from overseas to help with the certification and flight testing, some of my friends were involved. They were all terminated by Mitsubishi, a lot of them then moved onto the CS100. Mitsubishi ended buying the CRJ type certificate.
I know people who went the other way. First C-Series and then MRJ.
And now mostly at electric start-ups.

Yes. C series certification had mostly wrapped up by the time MRJ was ramping up.
 
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LAXdenizen
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 12:44 pm

That the US, Western European countries and (for a while) Russia are/ were able to manufacture airliners is partially due to their robust defense industries that never ceased after WW2, unlike the Japanese.
 
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Polot
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 1:23 pm

LAXdenizen wrote:
That the US, Western European countries and (for a while) Russia are/ were able to manufacture airliners is partially due to their robust defense industries that never ceased after WW2, unlike the Japanese.

Japan is able to manufacture aircraft, they never ceased after WW2 either (they were just never at the scale as Europe, the US, or USSR/Russia). In addition to being a large supplier recent examples include the Kawasaki C-2 (first flight 2010) and Kawasaki P-1 (2007). The MRJ/SpaceJet also despite its issues was a flyable aircraft with multiple aircraft built.

They just don’t know how to meet Western civil certifications standard though. That technically doesn’t mean what they do build is unsafe or anything. They just can’t properly prove it.
 
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hongkongflyer
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 4:55 pm

Polot wrote:
LAXdenizen wrote:
That the US, Western European countries and (for a while) Russia are/ were able to manufacture airliners is partially due to their robust defense industries that never ceased after WW2, unlike the Japanese.

Japan is able to manufacture aircraft, they never ceased after WW2 either (they were just never at the scale as Europe, the US, or USSR/Russia). In addition to being a large supplier recent examples include the Kawasaki C-2 (first flight 2010) and Kawasaki P-1 (2007). The MRJ/SpaceJet also despite its issues was a flyable aircraft with multiple aircraft built.

They just don’t know how to meet Western civil certifications standard though. That technically doesn’t mean what they do build is unsafe or anything. They just can’t properly prove it.


Don’t know why they need to prove it to Western standards. They can always certify it by Japanese one and I am sure many authorities will recognise it.
 
BeninEagle
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 5:41 pm

ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:
Because it's really really hard and expensive. So unless someone is willing to spend a lot of money over decades to build up the knowledge and track record needed, you won't just create one.

The trajectory of Brazil and its Embraer, is different from the one Mitsubishi took. Embraer never deviated from a deliberate, pains taking, plan to build gradually with technology it could birth and sustain, planning to evolve over the decades. And because of a single minded adherence to that vision, albeit sustained by addressing demand which it forecast accurately, it has become the success of today, even as it has reinvented itself along the way. By contrast, Mitsubishi abandoned commercial aircraft after the YS11 and came back with the Space Jet several decades later. Where its Brazilian peer had a family of aircraft to cushion any failure and remain in business, Mitsubishi had none. And a combination of exacting market dynamics in the US and its poor preparation and management of developing the Space Jet didn't help
 
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WesternDC6B
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 6:05 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
SL1200MK2 wrote:
mikejepp wrote:
You mentioned civil aircraft and I would say the HondaJet has been successful. Would it be considered Japanese or American?

Also, not civilian but military.... it is too bad the Kawasaki C-2 has not had more success. As far as I know, it is the largest western airlifter in production and a pretty impressive airplane.


While it’s been a while since it was actually Mitsubishi, the MU-300 Diamond ended up being a pretty cool jet.


Pretty much hated by anyone that had to fly it.


Why is that? Handling? Ergonomics? Thank you.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 6:13 pm

WesternDC6B wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
SL1200MK2 wrote:

While it’s been a while since it was actually Mitsubishi, the MU-300 Diamond ended up being a pretty cool jet.


Pretty much hated by anyone that had to fly it.


Why is that? Handling? Ergonomics? Thank you.


From what I gather, much the same complaints as other light jets—poor braking, limited baggage space, relatively slow, systems not up to new standards.
 
SL1200MK2
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 6:35 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
WesternDC6B wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:

Pretty much hated by anyone that had to fly it.


Why is that? Handling? Ergonomics? Thank you.


From what I gather, much the same complaints as other light jets—poor braking, limited baggage space, relatively slow, systems not up to new standards.



Now that you mention it, it does have poor luggage space.
 
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Polot
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 7:00 pm

hongkongflyer wrote:
Polot wrote:
LAXdenizen wrote:
That the US, Western European countries and (for a while) Russia are/ were able to manufacture airliners is partially due to their robust defense industries that never ceased after WW2, unlike the Japanese.

Japan is able to manufacture aircraft, they never ceased after WW2 either (they were just never at the scale as Europe, the US, or USSR/Russia). In addition to being a large supplier recent examples include the Kawasaki C-2 (first flight 2010) and Kawasaki P-1 (2007). The MRJ/SpaceJet also despite its issues was a flyable aircraft with multiple aircraft built.

They just don’t know how to meet Western civil certifications standard though. That technically doesn’t mean what they do build is unsafe or anything. They just can’t properly prove it.


Don’t know why they need to prove it to Western standards. They can always certify it by Japanese one and I am sure many authorities will recognise it.

They can but as mentioned earlier FAA and EASA certification is required for US and European airlines, and those two are not going to automatically accept Japanese certification. And the Spacejet M100 was specifically targeting US carriers- Mitsubishi adjusted specs so that the plane would fall into US scope clause MTOWs limits.

Compare the number of E170/E175s sold to US vs ROW. If the Spacejet is unsellable in the US there is basically no way the program could be a commercial success. The Japanese domestic market is too small to ignore large western market. This is different than Russia and China which have larger domestic markets and spheres of influence.
 
WayexTDI
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Tue Aug 16, 2022 7:16 pm

hongkongflyer wrote:
Polot wrote:
LAXdenizen wrote:
That the US, Western European countries and (for a while) Russia are/ were able to manufacture airliners is partially due to their robust defense industries that never ceased after WW2, unlike the Japanese.

Japan is able to manufacture aircraft, they never ceased after WW2 either (they were just never at the scale as Europe, the US, or USSR/Russia). In addition to being a large supplier recent examples include the Kawasaki C-2 (first flight 2010) and Kawasaki P-1 (2007). The MRJ/SpaceJet also despite its issues was a flyable aircraft with multiple aircraft built.

They just don’t know how to meet Western civil certifications standard though. That technically doesn’t mean what they do build is unsafe or anything. They just can’t properly prove it.


Don’t know why they need to prove it to Western standards. They can always certify it by Japanese one and I am sure many authorities will recognise it.

That's exactly the same train of thoughts for Chinese or Russian aircraft; but, exclude Western countries and you exclude the vast majority of the market. Much harder to compete when you cut off the biggest chunk of the market, and have to compete in the rest.
 
oceanvikram
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 17, 2022 3:07 am

2175301 wrote:
The reason the Mitsubishi SpaceJet failed was that the Japaneses did not understand that you had to start the regulatory process up front with the start of the design and manufacturing. That you could not post design and post production certify things.

It comes from a lack of understanding the regulatory process and with a strong amount of ego that they are experts and know what they are doing.

I've personally dealt with a major Japanese company that made heat exchangers for power plants on a $20 Million in heat exchangers replacement project (with another $20+ million in labor cost to remove the old and install the new ones). They considered that their standards were so much better than the ASME standards that they just crossed out all references to ASME standard and substituted their Japanese standards instead (US Law requires that pressure vessels meet ASME code). They also refused to consider the better tube materials for my application than what I specified - and insisted that their use of 304 SS was the best material for all of our plant's heat exchangers. Japanese Engineers with 40 years of heat exchanger experience had never ever used any other tube materials than 304 SS - and tried to explain why it was superior to everything else out there in the world for my application. 304 SS is great for some things, and quickly fails for other things, and in my case would likely fail from fatigue cracking in 10-15 years (I specified an alloy which would not fatigue crack for well beyond the expected future life of the plant) - which is why there are several dozen different common tube alloys used in heat exchangers in the world (copper, brass, copper nickel, steel, common stainless steels, "super ferritic" stainless steels, to inconel, etc) with multiple grades of each alloy. Needless to say their bid was dropped from the consideration list (and then they requested to know why and tried to explain that their heat exchanger standards were better than the ASME standards, ignoring my pointing out that legally I could only install heat exchangers that met ASME standards).

Such ignorance and ego combined is a dangerous combination for industrial design companies. As I followed the SpaceJet saga... I saw many of the same thought patterns and heard many of the same comments from Mitsubishi engineers and executives. They knew better.... until it was obvious that they did not and could not certify the aircraft without going back and starting over on many things.


I have worked for a Japanese and my experience is similar. They are very persistent with their point of view.
 
crjflyboy
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 17, 2022 3:47 am

From my point of view, the Japanese could build suitable aircraft " IF ALL " the major players decided on it ... Honda, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, Toyota, Subaru, Suzuki, among many others ... for what ever reason they wont.

I do think there is a market for a modernized YS 11 ... The YS 11 was loved by Piedmont and their pilots .. the competition against the plane no longer exists ... Fokker - gone ...HS 748 - gone , SAAB gone... ATR - too slow, Convair 580 history, DHC 8 - Who knows ? .. No 50 seat jet aircraft have not been built in over a decade ... some one can fill that gap ...
 
rbretas
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Re: What makes Japan not able to produce a successful civilian airliner program?

Wed Aug 17, 2022 4:56 am

The MRJ certification blunder comes at no surprise to anyone who has ever worked in Japan:

"We've always done it like this and it worked 10 years ago"
"You need the CEO's stamp to request over 5 days of vacations"
"You were not hired to find problems within our processes"
"If there was a way to do it better, someone would have done it before"
"The president, who is 85 years old, has no engineering experience and doesn't know how to use a computer, heard from his politician friend while playing golf that aluminium is not good and requested for this part to be remade out of titanium"

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