Airbus has named the first tranche of Japanese subcontractors for the A380 ultra-large airliner, but is still finalising larger agreements with at least two of the country's "heavy" aerospace manufacturers.

JAMCO will produce upper-deck floor carbon cross-beams, as well as stiffners and stringers for the fin centre box, at its Mitaka plant in Tokyo. The company already makes fin parts for all Airbus models except the A300.

Toray and Toho Tenax will produce all of the intermediate carbonfibre filaments for various composite A380 parts. Sumitomo Metal Industries will supply titanium sheets for the A380 and other Airbus aircraft.

"These agreements are just the first of a series, with more to come, as we are progressing our talks with other Japanese companies," says Airbus president and chief executive Noël Forgeard.

Airbus is understood to be close to announcing the participation of two of Japan's three aerospace "heavies" - Fuji, Kawasaki or Mitsubishi. All three last year rejected the European manufacturer's offer of a risk-sharing stake in the A380 citing their partnerships on Boeing's 767 and 777 programmes.

Airbus is working hard to increase its presence in Japan, where it has failed to make significant inroads into a market dominated by Boeing products. Japan Airlines is the world's largest 747 customer and has never ordered an Airbus product.

Nine customers have announced 97 firm orders for the A380. First flight is scheduled for late-2004 and entry-into-service is due in early-2006. The first Japanese parts will be delivered to the A380 production line early next year.

Source: Flight International