Research & Development

JAXA promotes three research and development programs and a fundamental research program that underpins them.

Flight technology for helicopters


About 40 percent of all aircraft in Japan are helicopters. This rate is particularly high compared to other countries (five percent in the US and four percent for the global average). Although helicopters are widely used in Japan for rescue, search, and emergency transport of patients and goods, it is also true that flight operations are frequently disturbed by Japan’s topographical and meteorological factors such as mountainous terrain and rainy seasons with low-visibility. Helicopter noise impacts should also be taken into account especially when flying over urban districts with which the mountainous Japanese archipelago are dotted.

Our challenge is to develop leading technologies that enable safer and more effective use of helicopters, relieving these major bottlenecks in Japan and turning the competitive advantages of Japanese technologies into global standards. Accordingly, taking on this challenge will also lead to increased power over the market.

Research helicopter

Research helicopter

Integrated use of manned and unmanned aircraft for disaster response

With the aim of achieving effective use of manned helicopters in disaster response, this research looks into integrated use of manned and unmanned aircraft systems, in which information gathering missions are assigned to unmanned aircraft so that manned helicopters can concentrate on the rescue and transportation of patients. The system will be assessed through flight demonstrations.

IFR flight operation technology for wide-area support

For disaster-response helicopters to be deployed quickly to the disaster-stricken area from non-affected regions (wide-area support system), JAXA is developing a system tool that quickly designs the best possible instrumental flight rules (IFR) flight route regardless of meteorological conditions.

Information sharing technology for emergency transport

JAXA is developing a system that can share information on patient data and flight operation among doctor-helis, flight operators, and medical institutions.

Impact assessment technology to measure influence of turbulence on rooftop heliport

Accurate assessment of the impact of turbulence on rooftop heliports will facilitate the safer and efficient operation of helicopters. JAXA is developing helicopter operational standards that take wind restrictions on rooftop heliports into account, based on impact assessments that combine observed data from actual flight experiments and numerical fluid analyses.

Linear obstacle detection system

Regardless of various measures taken against preventing helicopters from hitting electric wires, there were six such accidents in the past ten years. For helicopters to fly safely while avoiding electric wires, JAXA is developing a linear obstacle detection system that uses millimeter waves and infrared camera. The developed prototype system will be assessed through flight demonstration.