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C is here. Well, almost. May 8, 2017

Posted by hslu in China.
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I talked about A, B and C a while back; first on January 18, 2011 and later on September 3, 2015. 

A, of course, is Airbus, B is Boeing and C is COMAC, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China. 

In both of my previous blogs, I kind of askedq one question: “Is C coming?”  

With yesterday’s event, the question now becomes: is C here yet?

So, what happened on Friday, 5/5/2017? 

The first commercial airplane manufactured by China’s Comac, officially called Comac 919, took its maiden test flight on Friday at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.

As you can see, C919 isn’t ready for action yet. It is still three or four years away before flying passengers around the world. 

Source: BBC News.

Here are some informations about C919 which has received technical assistance from GE and Honeywell:

Source: 新民晚報

1。C919 is a narrow body, single-aisle twin-engine airplane, the most popular airplane in the sky. Capacity: 168 passengers. 

For comparison: Boing 737 family of airplanes: 85 to 225 passengers. Airbus A320: 150 passengers.

2。Range: 2,532 to 3,452 miles. Note: Beijing to Singapore: 2,786 miles.

3。Cost: ~$50 million USD vs $32 – $100 million for a Boeing 737 or about $100 million for Airbus A320. 

Commercial airplane manufacturing has been dominated by Boeing and Airbus for decades. Last Friday was the begining of a new chapter for the worldwide aerospace industry because a new kid came in town and one day will give its two much stronger and more advanced competitors a run for their money. For China, it’s an business opportunity it can’t afford not to get a piece of. It is also a big national security concern for the Chinese government to have its aerospace industry controlled by foreign governments. 

The development of C919 is a significant step for China in many respects.

Consider this: more than 31 years ago when I flew into Hongqiao Airport (虹橋飛機場) in western Shanghai with my Mom, the area around the airport was pitch dark because China was a third world country with intermitten supply of electricity. The streets of Shanghai were filled with millions of bicycles, buses and electric street cars. Chinese people lived on rationed rice, pork and cooking oil. Only three colors dominated the entire country: black, dark blue and grey. A university professor made ¥230 a month vs ¥170 for a factory worker. No private property was allowed and almost all people worked for the government. No skyscrapers in the city except those built in the 1920’s which escaped destruction during the 8-year China-Japan war. China was that poor. The lives of ordinary Chinese people were that miserable and things in China were downright hopeless.

None of that sorry chapter of the recent Chinese history matters any more. 

Look at China right now: 

Black and grey morphed into red and green and every color in between. Bicycles gave ways to millions of automobiles. Skyscrapers of every shapes and heights can be seen in cities big and small thought out China. This country is doing all it can to compete with the most powerful entities in the world in military, science, technology and, of course, aerospace. It will one day surpasses the United States and breaks down the hegemony laid out by the U.S. government and Wall Street bankers over the last 70 years.

The eventual launch of C919 is a snall step for China. C919 symbolizes the industry power of an emerging country and the drive behind one of the dreams of Chinese people: Made in China 2025.

The first C919 is only a test airplane but China already has received 570 orders of C919 from 23 buyers. Most came from Chinese domestic airline companies but GE has ordered 20 planes probably because GE is a big supplier to the C919 program.

After C919, Comac is looking into joint venture project with Russia on larger and more profitable wide-body airplanes such as Boeing’s 747 and airbus’s A340. That will be at least a decade away.

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