Toyota considers aircraft industry

Toyota Motor Corp. may invest in Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd's passenger jet, giving support to a Japanese project that will compete against Bombardier Inc. and Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA.

Toyota Motor Corporation is a multinational corporation headquartered in Japan, and one of the world's most dominant automakers. In terms of name recognition, Toyota is the only car manufacturer to appear in the top 10 of the BrandZ name recognition ranking. The company includes 522 subsidiaries.

Mitsubishi Heavy is "seeking cooperation'' to build the 70- to-90 seat regional jet.

Toyota received a request from Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Heavy to get involved though nothing has been decided yet.

Mitsubishi Heavy, Asia's largest aerospace company, is seeking investors and airline customers to start commercial production of Japan's first passenger jet in a market dominated by Canada's Bombardier and Brazil's Empresa Brasileira, or Embraer. The Japanese manufacturer will make a decision by the end of this month on whether it will launch the program.

An analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. in Tokyo says that Toyota's investment would be a selling point to get sponsors for the project. He also adds that the size of the investment is not big; given the huge development cost is estimated at about 150 billion ($1.5 billion) yen.

Toyota may invest 10 billion yen in a new company Mitsubishi Heavy plans to set up in April. The new company will raise funds and make the jet. Thus Toyota 's possible investment would provide solid support for Mitsubishi Heavy's project

Aichi prefecture-based Toyota fell 0.7 percent to 5,460 yen at the 3 p.m. close on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Mitsubishi Heavy dropped 0.2 percent to 463 yen.

Mitsubishi Heavy would need at least orders for 100 planes to absorb development costs, Mizuho Investors' Ishida said. All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd said in September it's considering the aircraft, becoming the first airline to publicly express interest. Japan Airlines Corp. said in December it may buy the plane.

All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. is an airline headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. It is the country's second-largest international airline after Japan Airlines and the country's largest domestic airline. It operates services to 49 destinations in Japan and 22 international routes

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, or MRJ, would be the first domestically built passenger aircraft since production of the YS- 11 propeller plane ended in 1973.

The MRJ would use United Technologies Corp's Pratt & Whitney engines that have fans that spin independently of the main turbine, a design Pratt & Whitney says will cut fuel and maintenance costs.

Mitsubishi Heavy, which makes carbon-fiber wings for Boeing Co's new 787 Dreamliner, plans to use the technology of the lightweight material on the new jet, designed to be as much as 30 percent more fuel efficient than existing models.

Mitsubishi Heavy has also named Parker Aerospace, Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., Sumitomo Precision Products Co. and few other companies to help build the plane.

Honda Motor Co., Japan's second-largest carmaker, plans to start deliveries of the eight-seat HondaJet in the U.S. in 2010. The company said March 3 it will also sell them in Mexico and Canada.

Shanghai-based China Aviation Industry Corp. I, known as AVIC I, last month said it will join China Eastern Airlines Corp. to start a new carrier to support sales of its own regional jet.

Toyota is headquartered in Toyota and Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture and in Tokyo. It also provides financial services through its division Toyota Financial Services and also creates robots besides automobiles. The company along with the original Toyota Industries form bulk of the Toyota Group, one of the largest conglomerates in the world.

As the leading company of the Japan's aerospace industry, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has been engaged in the development and production of a wide variety of aerospace products and thus contributed to the advancement of Japan, a technology-oriented nation, through its cutting-edge technologies.