The Aircraft Development Promotion Council, a Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) working group, is looking at ways of leveraging the Kawasaki-led C-X cargo and P-X maritime patrol programmes to help the country realise its long-standing ambition of developing a small jet airliner.

Early discussions focus on possible development of a family of 100-150-seat airliners for production after 2010. Work could be combined with long-running feasibility studies by Japan Aircraft Development (JADC) into the YSX family of 80-seat regional jets.

"The purpose of the committee is only to discuss possible development of a [civil] aircraft using the opportunity of developing the JDA's [Japan Defence Agency] P-X," says JADC senior managing director Toshinori Nishi. Whether a civil programme could serve as a continuation of the YSX project is still "not defined", he says.

JADC is an industry consortium responsible for co-ordinating government aerospace research and development funding. The working group includes the JDA, METI and Kawasaki, Fuji and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Airline members include All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Japan Air System.

A civil offshoot of the C-X/P-X could help to recoup a proportion of the programme's development costs, as Japan's constitution bars military aircraft exports. Nishi adds: "Generally speaking, if a commercial aircraft was developed in Japan, the Japanese market would not be large enough to support that business."

Kawasaki was selected as prime contractor for the C-X/P-X late last year. The C-X will be a high-wing, twin-turbofan transport, while the P-X will have four engines and a low wing. First flight of the P-X is due in 2006, with the C-X following a year later.

Source: Flight International