Decision to participate in ultra-large airline programme will aid Airbus efforts to penetrate country's airliner markets

Airbus's efforts to increase sales in the Boeing-dominated Japanese airliner market have received a major boost following the decision by two of the country's three "heavy" aerospace manufacturers to participate in the A380 programme.

However, despite recent claims by some Airbus officials that Japanese industry would have a risk- and revenue-sharing stake in the ultra-large airliner project, the company now confirms only subcontract work is involved. Airbus hopes the new contracts will boost its bid to achieve better market penetration, seen as crucial to the long-term success of the A380 programme.

Included in the second tranche of Japanese A380 suppliers are Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) and Japan Aircraft Manufacturing (Nippi), which are taking on work Airbus estimates will be worth $850 million over the life of the programme. FHI and Nippi do not currently have an industrial relationship with Airbus.

An initial tranche of Japanese subcontractors - comprising Jamco, Toho Tenax, Toray and Sumitomo Metal Industries - was announced in April. Airbus says discussions are under way with "several" more Japanese suppliers. "We expect an announcement soon," the company adds.

MHI is taking work through A380 risk-sharing partner and EADS subsidiary Eurocopter. The Japanese company will make forward and aft lower cargo doors at its factory at Oye in Nagoya and is due to deliver the first batch in September next year.

FHI will provide leading and trailing edges for the A380's composite vertical stabiliser, plus the fin tip and aerodynamic fairings. The parts will be produced at FHI's Utsunomiya plant, with first deliveries planned for next May.

Japan Aircraft Manufacturing has secured a contract to make horizontal stabiliser tips at its Yokohama factory. The first parts will be shipped to Toulouse in October next year.

Source: Flight International