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Japan firms to hold 777X role, may add forgings

Keywords: Tags  Boeing, 777, 777X, Japan Aircraft Industries, Japan Aircraft Development, Japan Aeroforge, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Japanese aerospace suppliers will preserve their position, and possibly increase their ultimate production role, on the newest version of Boeing Co.’s 777.

Chicago-based Boeing has reached a memorandum of agreement with Japan Aircraft Industries (JAI) and Japan Aircraft Development Corp. (JADC) to build approximately 21 percent of major structural components for the 777X. These include the fuselage sections; center wing sections; pressure bulkheads; main landing gear wells; passenger, cargo and main landing gear doors; wing components; and wing body fairings.

The JAI consortium includes Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., ShinMaywa Industries Ltd. and Nippi Corp. JADC is a nonprofit foundation formed to boost the competitiveness of Japan’s aerospace industry.

The twin-aisle 777X will include a new engine and composite wing to replace the current version’s aluminum skin wing. First delivery is targeted for 2020.

The 777X deal represents "essentially the same statement of work" for the JAI companies as the existing 777, a spokesman for the company’s Boeing Commercial Airplanes unit said via e-mail. But since some sections are larger than the current version and the production rate is expected to be higher, "the work package will ultimately be larger than that on the 777 today."

Among the major components JAI will build, the fuselage—including the center wing box—is aluminum, he said.

Japan’s 777X role could also involve another consortium and relatively new supplier to the aerospace industry, Japan Aeroforge Ltd., one of a limited number of global forgings producers with a 50,000-ton press (, March 9, 2012), which started up last year.

While the Japanese consortium’s work will include titanium forgings, the spokesman said Boeing has "not yet made a decision on who will do those forgings." But Boeing will be "considering a number of companies around the world, including (Japan Aeroforge)."

Earlier this year, Japan Aeroforge was tapped to supply titanium forgings to European landing gear builder Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, a unit of France’s Safran SA, for the main landing gear of Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS’ A350 XWB (extra wide body) airliner. The XWB is due to enter service later this year (, March 28).

The 777 is one of the first major airliners to heavily substitute titanium forgings for the more traditional steel forgings.

The two largest shareholders in Japan Aeroforge are Kobe Steel Ltd. and Hitachi Metals Ltd., each owning 40.53 percent.

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