It’s known as the “Land of the Rising Sun” and, indeed, the sun is rising on a new day in Japan.
In November 2015, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) ascended to the skies for a historic 90-minute first flight in Nagoya. The aircraft is the first passenger jet developed and manufactured in Japan since the YS-11 turboprop airliner more than 50 years ago, and Rockwell Collins played a key role in the celebrated maiden flight.
The MRJ features our Pro Line Fusion® integrated avionics system, Fly-by-Wire Primary Flight Control Computer, Pilot Control System, and Horizontal Stabilizer Trim System. To date, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the aircraft manufacturer, has more than 400 orders and options for the airplane from the Asia-Pacific region and North America.
Another major historical event occurred in 2014 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet relaxed the country’s constitutional export ban on defense equipment and technologies for the first time since World War II. The government is looking to take a more active role in global defense and security, and the new rules allow Japan to jointly develop military technology with its allies. In addition, it’s hoped that giving the defense industry access to new global markets will help stimulate Japan’s economy.
Japan has the third largest economy and the seventh largest defense budget in the world. And with the recent changes in the market environment, Rockwell Collins sees big opportunities for growing our business in that country.
Our company already is a well-known and trusted supplier in Japan with content on 40 different types of government and commercial aircraft. And as a result of a long-standing relationship with Mitsubishi Precision Company — Japan’s premier simulation company — our simulation image generators are used in nearly every Japanese military simulation training program, as well as All Nippon Airways’ (ANA) commercial pilot simulators.
A number of Japanese companies, in turn, are key suppliers for Rockwell Collins. For the last 25 years, Sharp Corporation has been a valued provider of liquid crystal display technology for our flight deck displays.
According to Jason Anderson, managing director of North Asia for Rockwell Collins, our strategy going forward focuses on building on these existing relationships to enter into mutually beneficial arrangements with additional Tier 1 prime contracting companies and Tier 2 suppliers.
“We’ve proven on the MRJ that we can be a major subsystem provider,” said Anderson, who was named to his role in December 2015. “That can benefit us as we pursue business with other aircraft manufacturers and suppliers.”
For example, ShinMaywa Industries is upgrading its US-2 search and rescue amphibian aircraft for export. Potential customers at this time include India and Indonesia. Rockwell Collins is pursuing opportunities to supply a number of avionics systems on the international version — the US-2i.
“As with the MRJ in the commercial arena, this is a monumental leap on the government side,” noted Anderson. “This could be Japan’s first domestically built aircraft in more than 50 years. To help navigate the complex export market, ShinMaywa and others in the aerospace industry are looking for experienced companies like Rockwell Collins to help them reduce risk as they get their products and services into the global market. We can do that, as well as offer our technology to fill product gaps and help them be more competitive.”
Market outlook from tourism to military
Anderson likes the opportunities for expansion that he sees across all Rockwell Collins businesses. Tourism is on the increase and Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. Our Information Management Services can help with improving airline communications, airport IT solutions, surface transportation and security to handle the influx of visitors to the country.
As the Japanese expand military operations with coalition forces, new markets can open for our Government Systems solutions like our FireStorm™ integrated targeting system and TruNet™ networked communications solution that enhances interoperability.
And in the commercial market, the major commercial airlines, as well as a number of low-cost carriers serving Japan, continue to buy new aircraft. ANA is one of the launch customers for Boeing’s 777X. The airline also has ordered 37 Airbus A320 airplanes, while Japan Airlines (JAL) has 55 A350 extra-widebody jets on order.
According to Hailin Wen, director of Sales, Marketing and Customer Support in the Asia-Pacific region, the healthy Japanese commercial airline market is a strategic one for Rockwell Collins.
“These new aircraft not only contain Rockwell Collins avionics, they also present openings to offer the airlines our cabin, simulation and training, aftermarket and services solutions,” said Wen.
New opportunities bring a new strategy
It’s a new day for Japan’s domestic and global export markets. Rockwell Collins is accelerating recent program pursuit initiatives and implementing a new strategic direction to take advantage of the changing market conditions and to grow our business internationally.
Anderson’s recent executive-level appointment, along with that of Robert Moss as the new sales manager of North Asia, signals to Japanese executives that Rockwell Collins is committed to doing business in the country for the long-term. Anderson and Moss join 11 employees in our Tokyo office and one in Nagoya who is working on the MRJ program.
One of Anderson’s top priorities is to build relationships with Japanese companies that have similar value propositions to Rockwell Collins and where the channels to market can be optimized. He says while the process will take time, it’ll also be exciting.
“By being who we are — a company that values trusted relationships and is committed to our customers — we can move beyond being a supplier of products and services,” said Anderson. “We can work closely with current and future industry partners to navigate the challenges and collaborate to grow enduring business together.”
-Annette Juergens Busbee