Japanese Prime Minister and will soon say goodbye and will retire the old Boeing 747-47C that have been used for more than 20 years. The government has decided to look for the latest and most fuel-efficient aircraft to fly their heads of state.
Boeing and Airbus are now in fierce competition to supply the Japanese Air Force One. Boeing has released the 777-300 model while Airbus has proposed the A350 XWB.
The government currently has two poor-fuel-efficient Boeing 747s that have been in official use and managed by Self Defense Forces since 1991. The government hopes to make a decision by summer of this year to have enough lead time for customization. The target date to start flying the aircraft is 2019, considering the current planes’ maintenance contract under Japan Airlines end by 2018.
A budget of 135.5 billion yen has been allocated for the 2 new aircraft for a period of 5 years. Customization of the plane will take many months for VIP cabin, office and other configuration.
The planes must be able to fly directly from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to the East Coast in the United States.
It is thought that Boeing will win the competition, considering that Japan will keep its share of production in the new 777X aircraft. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries will build 1/5 of the 777X, retaining Japan as its key Asian partner in commercial jetliners.
For Mitsubishi Heavy, Kawasaki Heavy, Fuji Heavy Industries and other Japanese suppliers, the high watermark for Boeing work so far is the 787 Dreamliner, with 35% of the aircraft, including wings, built in Japanese plants.
Boeing reckons that the business it gives Japan employs 22.000 engineers, accounting for around 40% of the country's aerospace workforce.
But an official from the Japanese MoD pointed out: “We are not favoring any particular manufacturer.” And last year Japan Airlines –current responsible of the Japan Air Force One maintenance- ordered 31 A350s instead of the 777X.