Japan has a assembled a supergroup of aviation, industrial, and space organisations to build a supersonic passenger jet.
The new organisation, Japan Supersonic Research (JSR), quietly signed itself into existence on March 31st. Yesterday, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that it is a member, alongside Japan Aircraft Development Association, Japan Aerospace Exploration Association, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries), IHI Corporation, and Subaru.
Japan’s aerospace industry currently focuses on manufacturing components for aircrafts and engines, including wings and fuselages. Mitsubishi recently hangared plans to build its own mid-size passenger jet. Another more successful exception is Subaru’s joint manufacturing deal for the Bell 412 helicopter, sold locally in modified versions called the Subaru Bell 412EPX and XUH-2.
JSR’s vision is to engage in international joint development of supersonic aircraft by 2030.
JAXA’s contribution to JSR includes a decade worth of sonic boom research. The space agency already has an aircraft design with a nose much more pointed and needle-esque than the bird-like hook nose that Concorde used to improve pilot visibility during takeoff and landing. At one point, a JAXA aviation director claimed the noise pollution from its supersonic aircraft’s takeoffs and landings would be half of that from the Concorde.
The other problem with the Concorde was terrible fuel efficiency. JAXA thinks it has that under control too, thanks to its design being lighter than previous efforts.
JAXA is betting on each individual member of JSR’s assembled team contributing expertise to make this endeavour viable, while enhancing individual members’ profitability.
JSR will have competition: United Airlines is buying 50 supersonic jets from Colorado startup Boom Supersonic for use by 2029. That model is known as the Overture and it is expected to reach Mach 1.7. ®