A certain type of human has always loved the pursuit of flight. Whether it’s flight via airplanes, feeling as though you’re flying on motorcycles, or even pulling together the best of both worlds to develop a flying hoverbike prototype, it’s a dream that humanity will seemingly never outgrow. That’s honestly great, because why should we?
On June 29, 2021, Yamaha Motor Company formally announced that it signed an agreement with Japanese aeronautics company ShinMaywa Industries, Limited for “joint research of next-generation small aircraft.” It appears their goals, much like their twin-cylinder engines, are parallel.
What will each partner bring to the table? Yamaha plans to bring its small engine technology along for the ride, and will be utilizing a parallel twin design to power the duo’s first prototype aircraft. Meanwhile, ShinMaywa’s long experience in aircraft engineering will serve to design concepts, build prototypes, and conduct tests, among other research facets.
There’s no mention of any sort of timeline included with this announcement, so we have no idea of when we can expect to see the first fruits of this partnership. Developing and testing working prototypes is, of course, only part of the puzzle. After all, both Yamaha and ShinMaywa are businesses, so investigating the potential commercial applications of any creations they develop together will necessarily be a part of the process.
While you may know any one of the sprawling Yamaha family of companies for the wide variety of products produced under that name, it’s not typically closely associated with aircraft. Conversion kits to transform four-stroke Yamaha snowmobile engines to power light aircraft have been around for some time, but they’re offered by aftermarket specialists and not directly from Yamaha itself.
Back in January, 1982, Yamaha first announced that it intended to develop engines for small aviation pursuits, from motorized hang-gliders to unmanned helicopters, such as those used for remote control agricultural spraying. That’s still significantly different than manned small aircraft, though. Pursuing this 2021 partnership with ShinMaywa, in this context, makes a lot of sense.
Does this mean that we’re one step closer to Yamaha building its own flying motorcycle? Probably not, but no one can deny that it’s been a weird couple of years. In any case, we look forward to seeing whatever it is the two companies do end up building together.