Brief History of YS-11

Japan Air Commuter YS-11-500A (JA8763, May. 2003, Amami-Oshima(ASJ), Japan)

Prologue to manufacture

YS-11 is Japanese made twin jets prop liner. The world war II was end in 1945, Japan lose the war. Due to United States regulation, manufacture of aeroplane is suspended, and continued to lifting the embargo at the end of 1955. Japanese government started to work for Japanese made aeroplane. Due to abandon the war after the WW II, government decided to work for passenger aeroplane. In May 1956, Japanese government published a project called "Japanese-made middle class transport planes". This project is working from 1957, and established "Federation of Transport plane design and reserch (Yusouki Sekkei Kyokai, in Japanese). It is designed for short distance flight such as domestic Japan. 3 designer who made Japanese fighters such as "Zero" or "Shidenkai" in WWII, includes the project and the federation.

First flight and flying the sky

At first, they have 2 plans. First plan is 60-65 seats, and second plan is 70-75 seats. In end of 1950s, market of domestic Japan is not matured for using aeroplane to move, they decided twin Rolles-Royce Dart engine, 64 seats prop liner. Federation is reorganise to the manufacturing company in 1959, as Nihon Aeroplane Manufacturing Corporation (NAMC or NAMCO). This company is established by government, and cooperation with 6 heavy industry companies, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Fuji Heavy Industry, Shin-Meywa Heavy Industry, Nihon Aeroplane, Showa Aeroplane and Kawasaki Heavy Industry.

Prototype of YS-11 is started manufacturing in 1962, at Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Komaki, near Nagoya airport. The aircraft is named YS-11. YS means "Yusouki Sekkei kyoukai, the initial of the federation, and 11 means that they adopted first plan of body and first plan of engine.

First flight was held 30 August, 1962, and they did experimental flight for 2 years. Japanese ministry of transport licensed in 1964, and FAA was licensed in 1965 to YS-11.

YS-11s produced 182 aircrafts, and most of them were sold to Japanese Airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Domestic Airlines (JDA), Toa Airways (TAW), Toa Domestic Airways (TDA- merged JDA and TAW, renamed into Japan Air System in 1988, merged into Japan Airlines in 2004), South West Airlines (Nansei Koku, in Japanese, now Japan Transocean Air), JCAB, MSA and Japanese Self Defence Air and Marine Force, but 76 aircraft were sold to other countries such as U.S., Canada, Argentina, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Greece, Republic of Korea, Brazil and Indonesia. For example, Piedmont Airlines in U.S. used them for domestic flight of U.S. and indicated "Rolles-Royce Jets" in their timetable, VASP used them for also domestic flight of Brazil, and named "Samurai" for YS-11. The production of YS-11 was suspended in 1974, and last one delivered to Japanese Self Defence Marine Force as transporer.

In 1970s, YS-11s are flying all over the world, but it is not continued so long time. At the end of 1970s, the retirement of YS-11 was started outside Japan. Some of them are sold to Japanese airline, such as ANA or TDA, and retirements were completed during 1980s.

Retirement from Japan

In 1990s, retirement of YS-11s in Japan was started. YS-11s are designed for regional airport that have less than 1500m runways. Due to bubble economy, government decided to construct new airport in regional Japan. For example, Takamatsu (Kagawa prefecture, Shikoku island), Okayama (Okayama prefecture, western part of Honshu mainland) and Aomori (Aomori prefecture, northern part of Honshu mainland) constructed new airport, and operation with Boeing or McDonnell Douglas jets. Some of airport extend their runway, and matured market for domestic flights, YS-11s are transferred to subsidiary for operation regional-regional route.

ANA's YS-11s started transfer to Air Nippon (ANK) since 1976, but it is only island transports. However, some regional routes such as between Osaka and several city of Shikoku islands, transferred to ANK in end of 1980s to early 1990s, with their traffic rights of YS-11 route. YS-11s of ANA were retired at 31 August 1991, due to complete transferring to ANK. This is one of the biggest news of YS-11s in Japan, because ANA is one of the biggest operator of YS-11s.
JAS' YS-11s are quite different. Some island routes in Kagoshima prefectures were transferred to Japan Air Commuter (JAC) since 1988. They transferred some regional route in western Japan such as between Osaka and Tokushima, Tokushima and Fukuoka. Operation transfer to JAC was completed in October 1994, and 12 YS-11s are moved into JAC. The last operation of YS-11s of JAS was March 8th, 1996, between Tokyo-Haneda (HND) and Nanki-Shirahama (SHM) route, due to runway extension of SHM.

In the other hand, Osaka-Itami airport is the largest YS-11 station in Japan in early 1990s. There are more than 10 YS-11s of ANA, ANK, JAS and JAC, and we could see a lot of take-off and landing of YS-11s, because runway 32R-14L of Osaka-Itami has only 1800m, and there were restriction for using jet airliners. However, some low-noise jetliners, such as MD-87 or A320s, are permit to use this runway, ANA and JAS introduce these aeroplane into regional route from Osaka. Due to this introduction, JAS suspend all operation from Osaka at the end of September, 1994, and ANK also suspend route from Osaka-Itami until September 1996.
There are only 2 operator, ANK and JAC. ANK operate intra-Hokkaido routes, island routes from Fukuoka and Tokyo-Haneda and Oshima, Tokyo-Haneda and Miyakejima routes. JAC operate domestic flights based on Kagoshima and Fukuoka within western Japan.

The first comprete retirement of YS-11s - Japan Transocean Air

JTA's YS-11s were operated for island route within Okinawa prefecture or some islands belongs to Kagoshima prefecture (Yoron island, 32km from Okinawa island). However, airports of Okinawa prefecture were eager to make new airport or runway extension, because they need to use aeroplane to carry daily goods. Therefore, main airport of Okinawa prefecture, Naha (Okinawa island), Miyako and Ishigaki can operate jet because they have more than 1500m runways. However, some of regional islands, Kumejima and Yonaguni is not suitable to operate Boeing737 jet.

Southwest airlines operate YS-11 since 1970s, and they continued to operate between Naha and Kumejima, Ishigaki and Yonaguni, Naha and Ishigaki, Naha and Miyako (these 2 routes are partially). However, in 2000, both 2 airport extend its runway from 1200m into 1500m, and start operation by Boeing737 jet. They decided to retire all YS-11s within 2000.

The last operation of YS-11 of JTA was July 1999, due to renewal of Yonaguni airport for jet airliners. This is the first comprete retirement of YS-11 in Japan. Most of YS-11s were sold to other country, and some of them are still able to see at Manila, Ninoy Aquino international airport without engine and propellar. Also, one ex-JTA's YS-11s, JA8787 is still flying as Asian Spirit's YS-11 as RP-C3588.

The final stage of ANK's YS-11s

ANK's YS-11s are crisis situation because of introduction of B737-500 "Super Dorphin" instead of not only YS-11s, also B737-200s. ANK decided to retirement of YS-11 from Fukuoka - Tsushima and Gotou-Fukue routes due to enough capacity for operating B737-500 at these airport. The last ANK's YS-11 of Fukuoka airport was Fukuoka-Iki route, that suspended in end of January 1999.

Due to this situation, ANK's YS-11s were only remaining 7 routes, 5 intra-Hokkaido route and Tokyo-Oshima and Miyakejima routes in February 1999. There are 7 YS-11s were remaining their fleets, they were: JA8722, JA8727, JA8729, JA8735, JA8744, JA8761 and JA8772. Due to this situation, ANK decided retirement of a YS-11 in 2000, and it would be JA8729. However, over run accident were occured in Feb. 2000 at Sapporo-Okadama airport, JA8727 was written off due to heavy damage.
In July 2001, ANK introduced DHC-8, between Tokyo and Oshima route. This introduction means that YS-11 disappeared from Tokyo-Haneda, their home. This was the last scheduled flight of YS-11 that based in Tokyo. ANK's YS-11 remains Sapporo-Okadama based 6 YS-11s only in summer 2001. After this introduction, JA8722 left ANK fleet and sold to Asian Spirit, the Phillipines.
July 2002, ANK established new airline, Air Nippon Network (A-net), and 2 more DHC-8 were introduced to intra-Hokkaido routes, strong-hold of YS-11. DHC-8 introduced into Sapporo-Okadama and Hakodate route, and 2 more YS-11s, JA8729 and JA8735 were retired during end of 2002 and early 2003. JA8729 sold to Phuket Air, Thailand and JA8735 was sold to Asian Spirit, Philippines, as RP-C-3592.

YS-11 operation of ANK is shrinking due to new DHC-8s introduction. In January 2003, there are only 3 YS-11s are remaining in their fleet, and operations are only Hokkaido area. At the end of May, 2003, the last operation of YS-11s was held between Sapporo-Okadama and Hakodate route. This was the last operation from Sapporo-Okadama airport, this is home airport of YS-11s of ANK. Because of this, JA8744 left ANK fleet, and sold to Phuket Air. At that time, there is only a route remaining for ANK flight, between Sapporo-New Chitose and Memanbetsu, and 25 August, JA8761 left their fleet into Phuket Air. Final operation of ANK's YS-11 was held in August 31, 2003, between Sapporo-New Chitose and Memanbetsu route, flight ANK453 and ANK454, using JA8772. ANK held farewell ceremony for YS-11 after landing to Sapporo-New Chitose airport by flight ANK454.

The final stage of JAC's YS-11s

JAS' YS-11s are retired in 1996, but JAC's YS-11s were not changed, even if Saab 340B introduced into their fleet. JAC thought Saab 340Bs are successor of Dornier228, and expand several route in western Japan. There are 12 in 1996, and they were flying scheduled flight that based Kagoshima, southern part of Kyushu island. Remaining YS-11s are: JA8717, JA8759, JA8763, JA8766, JA8768, JA8771, JA8776, JA8777, JA8781, JA8788, JA8805 and JA8809. First retirement of YS-11s from JAC was JA8776, in November 2002. She left their fleets, and moved to Misawa, Aomori prefecture for displaying at Misawa Aviation and Science Museum. Currently, we can see her at this museum. After her retirement, DHC-8-Q400 started to fly in JAC's route from February 2003, between Osaka-Itami and Kagoshima, Osaka-Itami and Izumo. 2 more DHC-8s were introduced into their fleets in 2003, and 2 YS-11s were retired, JA8805 and JA8809. These 2 YS-11s were "home coming" YS-11s. They belonged to Brazilian Airlines, Cruzeiro and VARIG, and came back in 1977 as Toa Domestic Airlines fleet. JA8805 moved to Noto, and using as practical aeroplane at Japan Aviation Technical Collage. JA8809 moved to Aomori prefecture, and desplayed at Michinoku Northern Fish Boat Museum.

In 2004, 2 more YS-11s were retired. First retirement was JA8777 in April, and moved to Japan Aviation Technical Collage, same as JA8805. JA8777 was first YS-11 that belongs to JAC. Second retirement was JA8759 in December, she was sold to Phuket Air, same as ANK's YS-11 as HS-KAO. This is the first YS-11s sold to outside Japan from Japan Air Commuter. She appeared at Bangkok as Phuket Air fleet in early 2005. In Fabruary 2005, JA8781 was retired and moved to Japan Aviation Technical Collage, which owned JA8777 and JA8805. JA8771 and JA8763 were retired in July and November 2005, also JA8788 was retired in May 2006. These 3 YS-11s were sold to the Philippines. As May 2006, only 3 YS-11s remains in Japanese civil aviation, and final flight would be held 30 September 2006.

Current operator of YS-11s in Japan (in Jan. 2005)

OwnerPurposeNo. of fleetRemarks
Japan Air CommuterPassenger3until Sep. 30, 2006
JSDMFTransporter10using passenger/cargo type
JSDAFTransporter13using passenger/cargo type
JSDMF=Japan Self Defence Marine Force
JSDAF=Japan Self Defence Air Force
JCAB=Japan Civil Aviation Buerau, Flight Inspection Section
MSA=Japan Maritime Safety Agency

Japan Air Commuter's YS-11 list (in May. 2006)

RegistrationManufacturePlan to retireConfigRemarks
JA8717Dec.,'69Dec., 2006X01 (Y64)JDA-TDA-JAS-JAC, Operated by JAL between 1969 and 1970 as international flight (Fukuoka-Busan route)
JA8766Apr.,'70Dec.,2006X01 (Y64)TAW-TDA-JAS-JAC
JA8768Aug.,'70Dec.,2006X01 (Y64)Boulaq, Indonesia-TDA-JAS-JAC
TAW=Toa Airways, predecessor of Toa Domestic Airlines
JDA=Japan Domestic Airlines, predecessor of Toa Domestic Airlines
TDA=Toa Domestic Airlines, predecessor of Japan Air System
JAS=Japan Air System, currently Japan Airlines Domestic
JAC=Japan Air Commuter

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Copyright 2002-2003 Hajime Suzuki. All rights reserved.