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Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Japanese firms want subsidies to build Boeing's 7E7

AP , TOKYO

Japanese aircraft makers have asked the government to help fund their work in developing and building Boeing Co's new 7E7 jet, an industry organization said yesterday.

Fuji Heavy Industries, Kawa-saki Heavy Industries, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries were picked by Boeing in June to help design and build the jet along with US and Italian manufacturers.

Yoshio Ibaragi, spokesman for industrial group Japan Aircraft Development Corp, said his association and company officials have requested funding for the three Japanese manufacturers.

He did not say how much money they were seeking.

Although the government has not made a decision yet, it would give money if the project contributes to Japan's aviation technology, said a trade ministry official in charge of aviation on condition of anonymity.

He added officials were still discussing the feasibility of 7E7.

Nicknamed the "Dreamliner," the 7E7 is expected to begin operating in 2008. A midsize jet, it will seat 200 to 250 passengers, and will be designed with greater fuel-efficiency to allow more nonstop flights.

Fuji Heavy spokesman Shinichi Murata said the government gave Japanese companies financial assistance when they helped developed Boeing's 777 and 767 jets.

He said Fuji Heavy engineers have already joined their American counterparts in Seattle to work on the project.

Chicago-based Boeing, the world's largest manufacturer of airliners, reported last month a loss of US$192 million for the second quarter. The company has cut 35,000 jobs since the Sept. 11 attacks and last month announced plans to slash 5,000 more.

But the company has said it stands by its forecast to deliver between 275 and 300 commercial jets next year -- the lowest levels for Boeing since 1996, when it delivered 271 jets.

Boeing said it received orders for five 737s, bringing its total orders for the year to 151.

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