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A group of aircraft enthusiasts is campaigning to permanently preserve the first mass-produced model of a historic Japanese airplane that may be scrapped after 33 years of flights.

The YS-11 — with two turbo propeller engines — is Japan’s first domestically produced postwar passenger plane, and has been regarded as a symbol of the Japanese aerospace industry of the postwar era.

The group, headed by Shigeta Saito, a well-known writer and psychiatrist, has urged the Transport Ministry and a local ward government to build an aerospace museum near Haneda airport to preserve the oldest YS-11 in operation.

The plane is scheduled to be retired in December and be replaced with a foreign-made airplane. It has been flown about 21,000 hours by the ministry to check airplane guidance systems in airports across the country. “We want to make it the main feature of a museum in the future. We want as many citizens as possible to support our campaign to appeal to the public,” said Akira Kondo, a photographer and a member of the group.

The prototype of the plane debuted with a successful maiden flight in 1962. About 188 YS-11s were produced until 1972.

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