Japan embarks on race for supersonic passenger planes

Leading Japanese engineering companies are combining their resources with the Japanese space agency to design a 50-passenger supersonic jet.

According to Nikkei Asia, the new public-private initiative, Japan Supersonic Research, was announced on Wednesday.

Members of the consortia are IHI, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Subaru and Japan Aircraft Development Corp.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been working on the issue of sonic boom for over a decade and has developed a streamlined aircraft design with a long, pointed nose to minimize booms.

Nikkei Asia claims that JAXA has succeeded in reducing fuel consumption by 13% compared to the technology used in the Concorde through measures such as reducing air friction. It has also lightened the aircraft by 21% overall and is conducting tests to determine the impact on fuel requirements.

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Masahiro Kanazaki, professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Tokyo Metropolitan University, says Japanese players have a chance to win in supersonic racing.

“JAXA and others in Japan have accumulated some of the world’s highest level technology and research for supersonic airplanes,” Kanazaki said.

JAXA declares “we aim to achieve technical objectives, which play a key role in the achievement of small supersonic passenger airplanes (Mach 1.6, 36-50 passengers, class take-off weight 70 tonnes, greater cruising distance at 3,500 nm)) and the presentation of the cell concept.

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