Japanese aim high with Concorde-san

The Japanese government is developing a supersonic passenger aircraft, three times the size of Concorde, which could fly between Tokyo and London in little more than five hours.

Concorde-san, as the new project is likely to become known, is intended to carry 300 passengers, about the same size as the current generation of sub-sonic jumbo jets. It will fly at a speed of Mach 2.4 compared to Mach 0.85 for a Boeing 747-400, drastically reducing the current flight time of 11 to 13 hours between Japan and western Europe.

Financially viable supersonic travel is one of the holy grails of the aerospace industry. But the high cost of the technology, has so far rendered projects like Concorde unprofitable. The Japanese aircraft is being developed by the Ministry of Trade and International Industry in collaboration with a consortium of private companies including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Last year, the ministry spent 3.75bn yen (pounds 20m) on the research and development of a Mach 5 supersonic engine known as HYPR, and it is hoping to spend 800m in 1998 on developing materials for building a supersonic aircraft body. The aluminium alloy currently used in passenger jets cannot withstand the 200 degrees centigrade temperatures generated through wind resistance during supersonic flight, and Mitsubishi hopes to come up with a carbon fibre compound alloy capable of performing the task.

Japan's aerospace industry has had little impact on the international market, largely because the country's post-war "peace constitution" forbids it from exporting any military equipment or technology. A number of civilian aircraft have been developed but they have all been commercial failures, and the latest effort, a small passenger jet called the YSX, is a "paper plane" and has not been manufactured in large numbers.

"They've proved that they can build aircraft, but the problem is selling and supplying them in competition with far more experienced companies like Boeing and Airbus," said Paul Lewis, Asia editor of Flight International. "Their imagination has been caught by the dream of producing something futuristic for the 21st century, but if they've continually failed to build a small 100-seat jet, it's unlikely that they'll ever do it on their own."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most