Japan seeking next government plane

Kyodo

The Defense Ministry has started the process for purchasing a new aircraft to be used for overseas trips by prime ministers and members of the Imperial family.

Officials said they will hold a briefing Feb. 3 for companies seeking to win the order and decide the winner by March 2015, with the target of introducing the new aircraft in fiscal 2019.

The plane should be capable of flying nonstop from Japan to the U.S. East Coast. It should be equipped with a VIP room and a workroom as well as advanced communications equipment for exchanging confidential information.

The Defense Ministry also said maintenance should be done in Japan.

U.S. aircraft maker Boeing’s next-generation 777X and its cutting-edge 787 are considered leading candidates because Europe’s Airbus does not have a maintenance base in Japan, government sources said.