Japanese aerospace manufacturers are unenthusiastic about the idea of co-operating with Airbus Industrie to develop the consortium's proposed A3XX high-capacity airliner, despite Boeing's recent decision to shelve its rival 747-500/500X .

Airbus has been signalling renewed interest in enlisting Japanese support for the A3XX, this time during a company financial forum in Tokyo. While there has not yet been any direct contact, Japanese companies still show little enthusiasm for the project.

"We have a long-established relationship with Boeing and industry probably remains much more inclined to work with them. Some companies could do small amounts of subcontract work [for Airbus], but that is as much as they'll do," suggests a senior Japanese aerospace executive.

Japan's three main manufacturers, Fuji, Kawasaki and Mitsubishi, had collectively been expected to take a 15-20% stake in the 747-500/600X. To support this effort, the Government planned to provide ´10.3 billion ($84.6 million) in financing for fiscal year 1997/8.

Despite the 747-500/600X being dropped, Japan appears to remain committed to Boeing, in the expectation that there will be a follow-on programme.

Airbus, in the meantime, continues to search for risk-sharing partners elsewhere. It confirms talks with a consortium of South Korean companies, consisting of Daewoo, Hyundai, Korean Air and Samsung, about taking a 5-10% share, as well as potential partners in China and Russia. Talks have also been held in the USA.

Juergen Thomas, Airbus senior vice-president of the Large Aircraft division, says in a Wall St Journal interview that the consortium is in talks with Alenia and Saab, which, he says, plan to take stakes of 10% and 5%, respectively. Saab, however, appears cautious. "We are interested in joining one way or the other. We haven't finalised a percentage yet " it says.

Source: Flight International