Toyota to invest in Japanese airliner project

/ Source: The Associated Press

Japan's top automaker Toyota Motor Corp. will invest $67.2 million in a project to build the country's first passenger jet in more than three decades, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. said Wednesday.

The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, was established April 1 to build and sell the new Mitsubishi Regional Jet, or MRJ.

Initially capitalized at $28.8 million, it sought out additional investors to accelerate development and boost global marketing efforts, Mitsubishi Aircraft said in a statement.

It will sell 67 billion yen of common and preferred shares through a third-party allocation on May 30, the company said.

After the share purchase, Toyota will own 10 percent of Mitsubishi Aircraft. Other investors include trading houses Sumitomo Corp. and Mitsui & Co., both of whom will invest $33.6 million for a 5 percent stake each.

The MRJ, a twin-engine aircraft seating about 70 to 90 people, will be made of lightweight carbon-fiber composite designed to consume about 20 percent less fuel than comparable standard jets.

Demand for smaller jets is expected to rise over the next 20 years in regional markets.

Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways placed the first orders for the MRJ in late March, asking for 15 jets for delivery from 2013, with an option for 10 more.

The MRJ will be Japan's first nationally funded, domestically manufactured passenger aircraft project since the YS-11, a turboprop airplane that was discontinued in 1973.