Global airplane manufacturing giant Boeing has continued to line up Japanese companies as one of the main sources to build its latest plane model, the 777X. Boeing has included Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries among the companies who will build around 21 percent of their newest plane, still making Japan its key Asian partner in making commercial jetliners, this according to sources with knowledge of the plans.
Japan has already been taking one-fifth of the work on the new plane for two decades now, but since Boeing plans ramp up production of planes per month, it is likely that there will be more work for the Japanese suppliers, one of the sources revealed. Boeing is currently building 8.3 planes per month for the 777 model. Boeing refuses to confirm this information, with its spokesman in Tokyo saying that “Supply chain partnerships and production system decisions will be addressed at the appropriate time.” The newest Boeing plane in active service right now is the 787 Dreamliner, and 35 percent of those carbon composite planes were built by Japanese companies.
The mode of operation of airplane manufacturers like Boeing, and to a lesser extent Airbus, is to assemble jetliners with parts manufactured by different suppliers all over the world. The manufacturing of new aircraft models – or in this case, creation of new variants for earlier ones like the 777X – gives more opportunities for suppliers to compete for contracts. Boeing’s higher output target for the 777X – a model that will compete with Airbus’s A350 – is a profit source for the U.S. airplane manufacturer.