Don’t look now but if you’re in a Boeing 777 aircraft, there’s a Subaru under your feet…and it’s not in the cargo hold. It’s actually part of the plane.
Subaru—or more accurately—Fuji Heavy Industries, which owns Subaru makes the center wing box section of the widebody airliner (as well as its freighter version) and just delivered its 1000th of the huge fuselage part. Fuji has been making the center wing box for more than 18 years, the first shipment going out in July 1993.
Fuji makes the wing box section at its Handa Plant (Handa, Aichi Prefecture). Boeing says the thousandth FHI center wing box will be delivered to Emirates Airlines in March 2012.
That Fuji Heavy Industries is making the “part” for Boeing shouldn’t be surprising. In addition to automobile, automobile engine and transmission and commercial vehicle manufacture, FHI has three plants dedicated to making aircraft parts (including for Airbus and others) and even at one time entire aircraft.
Like Saab, Fuji Heavy Industries has its roots in aircraft, formed from the remains of the Nakajima Hikōki Kabushiki Gaisha, or Nakajima Aircraft Company, which made the “Kate” torpedo bomber among other aircraft during World War II. It was Japan’s other large aircraft maker at the time. Mitsubishi made the legendary “Zero” fighter.
Immediately after the war, both companies were prohibited from making planes, with Nakajima Aircraft becoming Fuji Heavy Industries. FHI would build the Fuji FA-200 Aero Subaru, a four-passenger light plane from 1968 through 1986.
Boeing says the thousandth FHI center wing box will be delivered to Emirates Airlines in March 2012, but if you’re flying a Boeing 777 or a number of other aircraft, you’re flying in a Subaru. Sort of.