Watanabe Aerospace

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Watanabe Aerospace
TypePublic
Traded asWA (SĀX)
IndustryAerospace
 Defense
HeadquartersSafrisco, Paxtar
Area Served Worldwide
Key PeopleMārcus Sābātäro, Director
ProductsCommercial Aircraft
 Military Aircraft
 Launch Vehicles
 Missile Systems
Service(s)Aircraft maintenance
Number of employees96,510
DivisionsCommercial Aircraft
 Military Aircraft
 Defense Systems
 Launch Systems
 Maintenance
Parent CompanyWatanabe Industries
PredecessorCooper-Schmidt Aviation


'Wātānābe Ärospás (SC)', known internationally as Watanabe Aerospace, is a Paxtaren-based multinational corporation headquartered in Safrisco, Paxtar. Watanabe Aerospace specializes in the design, manufacture and maintenance of commercial and military aircraft, missiles, and satellite launch vehicles. It is the country's largest aerospace company and one of its largest defense contractors.

Founded as a division of Watanabe Motors after the purchase of Cooper-Schmidt Aviation in 1915, it became an independent company in 1931. The company experienced tremendous growth during the war years, opening six additional manufacturing facilities and employing over 120,000 at its height. After the post-war recession, it remained the country's only major aircraft manufacturer.

In addition to governmental sales, Watanabe manufactures commercial aircraft for airlines around the globe. Some of its customers include, Air Karolia, AirPlurinesia, Belphenian Airlines, Brisa, EmiliAir, Fālce, Federal Airlines, FlyGativa, FlyMe, FreedemiAir, Gobrassian Airlines, Guai Airways, Hesperic Airlines, Dumbo Star, Merganwings, Paxair, TÁNGOKÏO and TGÄ.

Watanabe Aerospace has its largest manufacturing facilities located in Laengelem, Neuheim and Sukaidoa.

The company is a partially owned subsidiary of Watanabe Industries, and is traded on the Safrisco stock exchange.

History

1910-1920

Early Aluminum Engine

In 1910, Watanabe Motors began manufacturing custom lightweight aluminum engines for early aircraft produced by Áhūon, Emoto Gośū, and Cooper-Schmidt. By 1913, the company was experimenting with its own aircraft designs, resulting in its first production model, the A4, a flying boat biplane. A total of four A4s were built, of which three were sold to the National Mail Service. Six slightly larger A5s with a second seat for one passenger or up to 80kg of cargo were built in 1914.

Watanabe Motors A11
Seeking to expand in the field of aviation, Watanabe Motors purchased Cooper-Schmidt Aviación in early 1915 and founded a new division called Wātānābe Motorem Ärbārcem. Raul Schmidt, along with engineer Marl Nūāne and 14 carpenters, relocated from Neuheim to a new facility built on a farm adjoining the existing Watanabe auto plant in Sabishii.

By 1919, the new division had grown to over 100 employees and was manufacturing three new models, including the two-seat bi-wing A11, which was originally commissioned by the Paxtaren military for use as a spotter plane.

1920-1936

W7 at Laengelem Air Museum
Watanabe's aircraft division continued to grow during the 1920s. In 1924, a second manufacturing plant was built in Neuheim, closer to timber supplies for the aircraft frames.
50 Star note reverse

In 1928, the new plant began building the company's most popular model up to that time, the nine-passenger, tri-motor W7. The W7 launched passenger air travel in Paxtar and within five years was used by several competing domestic airlines. A stripped-down version of the W7 was used for air cargo and post, and a variant with more powerful engines and an extended range was sold to the military. By the mid-1930s, the iconic W7 had become the national air workhorse, and could be spotted at airports across the country. At a top speed of 145 km/h, it could reach Guai, 575 km across the Koropiko from Carmeleum, in just under four hours. Over 280 W7s were built, and some were in use as late as the mid-1940s. The W7 appears on the reverse of the 50 star note.

Watanabe Aircraft Logo Circa 1932
In 1931, Watanabe Aircraft (Wātānābe Ärbārcem) became an independent subsidiary of the Watanabe Company, the newly formed parent company for Watanabe Motors and Watanabe Aircraft. The company established its new headquarters in Sūrfeld, south of Safrisco Field Airport, in 1932.

In the same year, the company founded its own passenger airline, Watanabe Coshia. The new airline began domestic service on October 4 with a 45-minute inaugural flight from Safrisco to Joriku. Its first international flight took place on March 18, 1933 to Stoyobotsa, in Ohemia.

With 18 upgraded W7s provided by its parent company, Watanabe Coshia was able to undercut competitors' pricing on most routes, forcing several of them out of business. Within a year, Watanabe Aircraft was sued for anti-competitive business practices, but due to legal maneuvering and political influence, it was able to continue to operate without restrictions.

In 1934, Paxtar declared its neutrality in the escalating conflict between the Northern Block and Eastern Alliance. Watanabe Aircraft and its sister company, Watanabe Motors, continued to sell non-weaponized aircraft and automobiles to both sides in spite of foreign complaints and domestic protests.

1936-1947

The attack on the RPŞ Färon in 1936 by the Eastern Alliance resulted in Paxtar entering the war on the side of the Northern Block. Manufacture of civilian aircraft was halted, and all Paxtaren airlines, including the Watanabe-owned Watanabe Coshia, were nationalized and combined into the Paxtāren Är Särvitem Compané, also called PÄSC.

M22 Assembly Line
With an influx of government funding, the company broke ground on several new manufacturing facilities for the production of militarily important aircraft. By 1937, the national research and development budget for aeronautics more than quadrupled, with a large portion of the research grants going to Watanabe Aircraft. As a result of the subsidies, by 1939, Watanabe Aircraft had completely eliminated wood and canvas bi-planes from its production in favor of metal-framed mono-planes, using more powerful water-cooled engines and increasingly advanced avionics.

The company more than tripled in size to aid the war effort, and its factories began a 24/7 production schedule.

During the war years, the most widely manufactured models were the single-engine MF6 fighter, the twin-engine M22 bomber, and twin-engine M14 transport. All three aircraft were widely used by the PDF, while also being exported to allied nations.

1947-1955

Aerea Ardesferica W10
The post war period produced new challenges for the company. A glut of military aircraft and the reduction of government funds resulted in all but two assembly plants being closed. By late 1948, over 95,000 employees had been dismissed, and the company reached a low point with a single assembly line producing the M14 transport as the civilan W10 passenger plane.
Paxtaren Airlines W12

Under the leadership Verner Odācā, the company's new director, several military designs were updated and adapted for civilian transportation, including the unbuilt M35 bomber, which became the four-engine W12. Entering service in 1950, the W12 became the company's first true airliner. It was able to comfortably carry 80 passengers up to 3,200 km, at 565 km/h.

M26 Fighter

Research and development of jet engines continued, and the M26 fighter, which had been designed towards the end of the war, became the company's first jet-powered production aircraft. In 1951, it was the first fighter ordered by the Paxtaren Air Force, which was newly formed from the Navy and Army's air divisions. An order for 120 of the jets helped the company survive during its downturn.

1955-1965

Paxtaren Airlines W18 Skyliner

Larger and more powerful jet engines continued to be developed and brought to production, and on October 4, 1957, Watanabe's first passenger jet, the W18 Skyliner, left the main assembly hanger in Laengelem. With a range of over 10,000 km, it had more than twice the passenger capacity and 70% more speed than its turboprop-powered predecessor. The W18 radically changed air travel, decreasing travel times, increasing comfort and convenience for passengers, and increasing profits for airlines. Aided by recovering economic conditions, the W18 was embraced by airlines and their passengers. More than 600 were built between 1957 and 1971, and they were still widely flown until the early 1980s.

In 1963, the company began producing its first mid-range passenger jet. The tri-engine W23 quickly became a success in the short-to-medium range market by bringing jet travel to shorter routes that were previously served by turboprop aircraft or were not economically feasible for the larger W18. The W23 carried up to 108 passengers, with a cockpit crew of three. It had a 4,100 km range and a cruising speed of 560 km/h.

The W23 remained the company's primary mid-range passenger jet until 1972, after which it was slowly phased out by the increasingly popular, more versatile and efficient W34. The last W23 was delivered in 1982.

1965-1986

Paxär W34-D

The short-to-medium range twin-engine W34, which Watanabe debuted in 1972, was the intended replacement for the W23. Along with other design improvements, the W34 was able to eliminate the need for a flight engineer and could fly with a cockpit crew of just two.

In its first variant, the W34 had a passenger capacity comparable to the W23, but with a 2,000 km greater range.

Since its introduction, more than 6,000 W34s have been sold, and it has become the company's most popular model, with four main variants still in production. The W34 was assembled in Neuheim between 1972 and 1987, after which production was moved to the Watanabe facility in Sukaidoa.

By the late 1960s, Watanabe had begun planning for the replacement of the aging W12. Although in its fifth update, the W12 relied heavily on 1950s technology. In 1968, the company decided on a high-wing design with fuselage-mounted landing gear that would appeal to both commercial and military markets. The wide-body W32 was conceived as both a passenger airliner, easy-to-load cargo aircraft, military transport and tanker.

M201 Tanker (W32 airframe)

However, due to multiple problems with the prototype, W32 production was delayed by over four years past its planned introduction date of mid-1975. Having acquired a reputation for being uncomfortable and noisy, along with numerous maintenance issues, several airlines canceled orders for the W32. Ultimately, its largest sale was for 24 W32s to government-controlled Paxtaren Airlines as part of a back-door subsidy for Watanabe Aircraft.

The Trānglobe Flight 743 disaster in 1982 lead to a complete loss of confidence in the already unpopular aircraft. Other airlines flew the W32 without incident, but no W32s were produced after 1983. The M200 military version continued to be manufactured until 1989. Only 216 airframes of the initial estimated production run of 1,800 had been built.

The commercial failure of the W32 resulted in Watanabe temporarily abandoning the long-range wide-body commercial market and focusing its efforts on military and short-to-medium range civilian aircraft.

1986-2010

Facing continuing financial difficulties, Watanabe Aircraft merged with Pilrūt Aerospace, a Gonfragerra-based company specializing in smaller jet aircraft, including military aircraft, missile systems, and rocketry. The merged company became Watanabe Pilrūt in 1986 under the management of Necéno Śūlūm, who had been the Director of Pilrūt Aerospace.

Launch of PSAT-3
In an effort to become more competitive, much of the company was reorganized, resulting in the sale of several smaller subsidiaries. The fabrication plant at Safrisco Field and the Pilrūt PNG295 assembly plant in Gonfragerra were closed. The PNG295 was redesignated the W29, and its assembly was moved to Laengelem.

Pilrūt's launch vehicle division remained unchanged by the merger. The first satellite launch by the merged company took place in November 1989, successfully carrying PSAT-3 into orbit.

Ŧesā Céten-Ācāre, the 32-year old Pilrūt chief engineer, was promoted to commercial aircraft design division head, after the forced resignation of the previous head. Céten-Ācāre was given a mandate to update existing aircraft where possible, while also developing options for future aircraft designs. By 1990, the company had selected three new designs for long-haul markets.

Gobrassian W36C-XR

In 1995, the company was renamed Watanabe Aerospace.

In 1998, the company reentered the long-haul market with the introduction of the W36, its first new wide-body in 20 years. The W36 was meant to directly compete with similar aircraft already being produced by other aircraft manufacturers. The fuel efficient twin-engine jet could carry a maximum of 380 passengers with a crew of 14. Designed primarily for high-traffic long-range routes, the W36 quickly became one of the company's more popular jets. Assembled at the Laengelem plant, it was initially available in two passenger variants as well as a freighter and, in 2001, as the M240R air-tanker.

2010-Present

Guai Airways W39B

In 2010, advances in materials science allowed to the company to update several older aircraft designs while bringing several new high-profile aircraft to market.

Watanabe Aerospace delivered its first advanced materials jet, the twin-engine W39, in mid-2010. Making use of lighter weight ceramic and composite construction, the W39 became the most fuel efficient aircraft built by Watanabe Aerospace. Designed for the medium-to-long-range market, it had a range of 14,200 km and could carry up to 310 passengers. The W39 became a hit with airlines as it allowed more direct flights, reducing the airlines' reliance on hub and spoke networks. By 2011, the longer B variant had also entered production.

Paxtaren Air Force M350

In late 2011, the Neuheim assembly plant delivered its first order of 24 M350 fighters, the next generation replacement for the older M320 fighter originally manufactured by Pilrūt Aerospace. Carrying one pilot, the single-engine M350 fighter has an airframe constructed primarily of lightweight alloys and carbon fiber composites.

Paxär W40-B

In 2012, Watanabe Aerospace unveiled the W40 supersonic transport. Originally planned for delivery in 2010, it was delayed by almost two years over funding issues and the company's focus on getting the W39 fully into production.

The W40 makes use of many of the same materials and construction techniques used in the manufacture of the W39 and M350. Able to reach a top speed of Mach 1.58, it is able to fly the 3,375 km between Safrisco and Latina in under two hours, and the 9,210 km to Khaiwoon in under five.

Heavily subsidized by government funding, the W40 was intended as a public relations project promoting Paxtaren capabilities. Although generally a source of national pride, the W40 has been criticized for its noisiness, high construction and operating costs, and for the government subsidies it receives.

As of 2017, only ten W40s have been built.

Future Plans

Hypersonic Aircraft Concept
Watanabe Aerospace continues to develop technologies in the field of aerospace, while trying to anticipate market needs and changes. It is in the exploratory stage of several new technologies including hypersonic, sub-orbital, electric and self-flying aircraft. Additionally, the company is researching the feasibility of double-decker, flying-wing and windowless aircraft. In early 2018, Watanabe Aerospace established a ᚯ15 million aerospace research endowment at the University of Sabishii’s School of Engineering in an effort to enhance the university’s aeronautical engineering programs.

Major Facilities

Watanabe Aerospace operates four major facilities in Paxtar, in addition to smaller plants and support offices. It also maintains additional offices and facilities in other parts of the world.

Laengelem Assembly Factory

Laengelem Facility

Except for the W34, final assembly for all Watanabe commercial aircraft takes place at the Laengelem Assembly Plant. Located 48 km northwest of the city, the facility borders Dirks Field, which was expanded significantly in 1966 and again in 1992 to accommodate WA. The assembly hangers at the facility are some of the largest buildings in the country and have been in near-continuous production since the 1940s. (map)

Sukaidoa Assembly Factory

The Sukaidoa Assembly Factory exclusively produces the W34. It borders the city's airport, and is a major employer in the region. Built in the late 1980s, it took over production of the W34 in order to allow expansion and updates to the Neuheim Factory. (map)

Neuheim Assembly Factory

The assembly factory in Neuheim produces military aircraft, aircraft engines, and provides modifications to existing airframes for military use. The factory borders the Neuheim airport on the northwest corner of the airport, near the site of the original Cooper-Schmidt factory. The eastern quarter of the facility dates to the 1930s and now houses two wind-tunnels, engine research and testing department, and three buildings devoted to jet engine assembly. With the addition of two large assembly hangers during the 1970s, the Neuheim Factory was tripled in size. Additional support facilities were added during the 1980s and again in the late 1990s. (map)

Gobrassanya Maintenance Facility

Located at Authou Airport in Gobrassanya, the Watanabe Aircraft Maintenance facility specializes in the maintenance and overhaul of medium and short-range aircraft, but can accommodate long-range aircraft if needed. With its 15900m2 hanger the facility can manage multiple simultaneous aircraft overhauls and maintenance operations. (map)

Etatono Facility

Located near Etatono Airport in Ullanyé. (map)

Hasiru Skyport

Skyport Main Gate

The Hasiru Skyport Launch and Test Facility in Fūnsūé is administered by Watanabe Aerospace. Located roughly 97 km north of Sukaidoa, its 6 km runway is used for aircraft testing, and its launch platforms are used for rocketry testing and satellites launches. The Skyport was originally part of the Fūnsūé military base and was the location of the first jet-powered flights in the country. The facility is operated under contract by Watanabe Aerospace, but is overseen by the Paxtaren Space Agency (PSD). The Skyport is bordered on the southwest by PDF Base Fūnsūe. (map)

Notable Incidents

  • Yuke Watanabe in 1916
    1917: The first recorded air fatality in Paxtar occurred when a wing strut collapsed during a test flight, killing pilot Yuke Watanabe, the grandson of Watanabe Motors Director Casū Watanabe.
  • 1949: A PÄSC W10 carrying singer Mārtécā Govār, her husband and 18 others, disappeared without a trace over the Bahia Latina.
  • 1954: Paxtaren Airlines Flight 26 crashed into the Koropiko 12 minutes after departing Carmeleum, killing all 63 on board the W12 airliner.
  • 1957: An Oceanus W12 crashed while landing in Campo Verde, killing 56.
  • 1974: An Air Commonia W18 reported being hijacked after takeoff and crashed while landing in Altaville, killing 98 of the 152 passengers on board.
  • 1981: Gobrassian Airlines Flight 451 reported multiple engine failures an hour after departing Gobras City with 102 passengers and crew aboard. Shortly thereafter, the Watanabe W23 dropped off the radar over the Asperic Ocean. Minor debris was found floating on the ocean, but the airliner's fuselage was not located until four months later.
  • Trānglobe 743 Fireball
    1982: Trānglobe Flight 743. The W32 crashed shortly after takeoff from Safrisco Airport runway 25R. All 191 on board were killed as were an additional 23 persons on the ground, including two firefighters. The resulting fires destroyed several blocks of an industrial district west of the airport. (map)
  • 2001: Paxair Flight 2354. While landing, the W34 slid off the icy runway in Neuheim and hit a service truck collapsing the forward landing gear. The driver of the truck was killed and one passenger died of a heart attack. Six additional passengers and the copilot were injured during the collision.

Controversies

  • 1933: Unfair Trade Practices
    During the 1930s, Watanabe Aircraft entered the commercial airline business, competing directly with its own customers. The company was taken to court, but was able to delay court proceedings with a series of legal motions. Accusations of bribery of government officials were made but never proven. Several small airlines on lucrative routes were forced into bankruptcy. The issue faded when Watanabe Coshia, the company's airline, was nationalized in 1936.
  • 1934-1948: Pre-War Sales
    After the national declaration of neutrality in 1934, Watanabe Aircraft obtained sales and export waivers from the government, allowing it to sell non-militarized aircraft to the Northern Block, while its sister company Watanabe Motors sold motor vehicles to the Eastern Alliance. In spite of protests and warnings that not adhering to strict neutrality would lead to direct involvement in the war, the sales continued until 1936. After the war, criticism continued by those who blamed the company for having contributed to Paxtar entering the war. The post-war revival of the scandal prevented Watanabe Aircraft from reacquiring its nationalized subsidiary airline and from being compensated for its nationalization.
  • 1987: Plant Closures
    The Pilrūt Aerospace and Watanabe Aircraft merger was promoted by both Watanabe and Pilrūt as a way to save thousands of jobs. However, after the merger, the company closed several facilities as it consolidated production and redundant departments. Over 9,500 jobs were eliminated in the two years following the merger.
  • 2012: Government Subsidies
    Construction of the W40 at taxpayer expense was widely criticized as a give-away to a politically influential company. The development and construction of the W40 was funded by the national government at a cost of over 5.2 billion for the first four aircraft. The second production run of six W40Bs cost an additional 4 billion.

List of Notable Aircraft

Image Years Model Engs. Engine Type Range (km) Top Speed (km/h) Crew※ Pass. Length (m) Span (m) Notes
Watanabe A11 1919-1921 A11 1 Inline 372 116 1-2 0-1 8.3 11.3
1922-1927 A15 3 Inline 596 143 1 5 11.3 16
1925-1930 W4 1 Inline 1263 160 1 2 7.87 12.5
Costamedia Air Transport W7 1928-1934 W7/W8 3 Radial 910 210 2/1 11 15.1 22.8
MF6 Fighter 1941-1947 MF6 1 Radial 1605 716 1 n/a 10.3 12.5
M22 Bomber 1943-1947 M22 2 Radial 2085 432 3/3 n/a 16.1 20.7
M14 Transport 1942-1947 M14 2 Radial 2400 370 2 35 19.7 29.2
Aerea Ardesferica W10 1947-1956 W10 2 Radial 2560 370 2/1 23 19.7 29.2 Post war M14
Paxtaren Airlines W12 1950-1961 W12 4 Turboprop 3250 565 3/5 82 29.5 34.4
MF26 Fighter 1951-1960 MF26 1 Jet 1650 965 1 n/a 13.6 11.35
Paxtaren Airlines W18 Skyliner 1957-1971 W18 4 Jet 6700 975 3/6 156-218 45.7 43.1-44.5
Aer Lonowai W23 1963-1982 W23 3 Jet 4160 905 3/4 142-187 46.7 33.1
W34 1972-Present W34 2 Jet 6100 960 2/2-3 158 29.6-43.7 29-35.4
Brisa W29 1974-Present W29 2 Jet 2600-3000 900 2/1-2 42-60 25.9-29.1 21.5-24.9 Originally manufactured as the PA295
Paxair W32 1979-1986 W32 4 Jet 13500 780 2/6 220 58 56
Gobrassian W36-C/ER 1997-Present W36 2 Jet 13500 950 2/6-8 311-392 64.1-75 60.1-68.9
W39 2010-Present W39 2 Jet 13600-14200 910 2/4-6 240-310 56.8-67.1 59.6
Paxtaren Air Force M350 2011-Present M350 1 Jet 2150-3600 1910 1 n/a 16 11.5
Paxär W40-B 2012-Present W40 4 Jet 9700 1960 2/3 172 60 31

※ Crew: Cockpit Crew/Other Crew