Boeing Turns To Japan Inc. For Electric Flight
がんばってボーイング! (Do your best, Boeing!)
Are you ready to fly the electric skies? Boeing isn’t. But, to be fair, neither is any other mainstream aircraft manufacturer. Electric airplanes are on the company’s agenda, however, and it is now looking to Japan for some of the technology it needs to make fossil fuel-free flight a reality.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, the arrangement involves a partnership between the U.S. company and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Through this relationship, Boeing will get access to “electronics and precision-equipment makers” in may need to develop the new technology. Already, though, certain Japanese companies have been targeted for cooperation.
Electric airplanes will need batteries, so the aircraft maker will work with GS Yuasa to develop cells suitable for the rigors of flying. (This is an area Boeing has needed help in the past.) The craft will also need motors. While the report names Sinfonia Technology and Tamagawa Seiki as outfits that will help with small motors, it seems like superconducting motor technology is being considered for the main motivators. Those will be developed with help from Kyushu University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
To meet the challenges of battery-powered flight, lighter weight fuselages are in order. It makes sense, then, that Boeing will work with the world’s leading supplier of carbon fiber, Toray Industries, to develop a more affordable product suitable for mass production.
To bring everything together, Mitsubishi Heavy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Subaru have all been lined up to aid in the manufacturing processes.
No timeline for the first fruit of the collaboration was given, but we imagine it will take years before we see electric aircraft of significant size from the manufacturer. Its European rival, Airbus, is also developing electric airplanes of its own with help from Rolls Royce.
Source: Nikkei Asian Review