State owned Chinese manufacturer sells planes to state owned Chinese leasing companies who have state owned Chinese airlines as customers.
Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac), the maker of China's domestically made single-aisle passenger jet – the C919 – has secured orders for 300 of the recently certified aircraft. State-owed Comac named seven leasing firms as the takers of the airplanes, all Chinese. The lucky seven include: China National Bank Financial …
You might as well say - yawn European flag carriers mostly buy Airbus, and US airlines mostly Boeing. China is a large and growing market. The vast majority of all new planes are now bought in Asia Pacific, for the simple and obvious reason that US and Europe are buying at *replacement rate*, while APAC is building out its core infrastructure.
The question isn’t really whether C919 is a great aircraft. The question is whether it can cut the business case out of the development budget of “the next big airframe” from Boeing and Airbus. Both of them only make 5% margin, even in the fattest years, and a genuinely new airframe costs them so much to develop, it nearly bankrupts them every thirty years they do it. If you take a third of the revenue off a +5% business case, no prizes for figuring out what happens. There is only room in the world for two global aircraft manufacturers, and it is not at all clear that either Airbus or Boeing won’t be the loser.
As much as I would usually be bound to agree with you, the fact remains that Airbus and Boeing are constrained in their volume (both intentionally and unintentionally). Airbus has converted the old A380 Final Assembly Line (FAL) to A320 operation to add more throughput, Boeing has moved the 787 to Carolina so they can build more 737s in Washington.
China doesn't want to be beholden to the West, rightfully so, I think, and neither do they want to be constrained by the manufacturers. They want to move their country ahead, and if that means designing their own plane (similar to what the Japanese tried with the Mitsubishi MRJ SpaceJet), then so be it. They partnered with those companies best known for their expertise, and as is custom in China, technology transfer deals make sure that China learns how to do some things. They did this with Bombardier, Siemens, Alstom, Hitachi and Kawasaki for their high-speed trains too. Now, based on the initial designs, they're building their own trains (of course, you can argue that technology transfers are just industrial espionage/theft by anything but name).
China's aircraft carrier, submarines, fighter jets etc are all either licensed copies or blatantly reverse-engineered designs, just like Russia did with British, German and American designs back in the Cold War... China has less of a sanctions problem than Russia does, and I'm sure Russia and China will be cooperating on some things anyway (unless it becomes inconvenient for the Chinese).
Things move on. The world's industry is not just limited to the West... the East will also build things, improve things, force the West to move on and change along with it. C'est la vie.
Good for the Chinese, I say... Boeing and Airbus will survive this, just like they have other things.
China has been very good at manufacturing in certain sectors. Lots of cheap stuff (in practice we all know what someone means when its made of chinesium) or lots of concrete.
Cutting edge engineering and safety critical stuff (with an open and honest culture not smothered with political posturing) is not something associated with China. Yeah this goes on everywhere to some extent (cough Boeing) but China is at another level.
I think it'll need a decade or so in service (and avoidance of more crashes than Boeing's latest) before most potential customers would be interested.
Even then though, you'd have thought that the major markets are likely to be Russia and African nations, and possibly South American nations. I doubt that they'll be seen in Europe or North America anytime soon.
"Wasn't it Russia that bought C919s?"
It is a valid question to ask but not as far as I am aware not least because Russia has the competing Irkut MC-2 aircraft.
That said, and given all the hi-tech sanctions on Russia, it might very well at some future stage lease or buy C919s because it has become impossible to build the home grown MC-2.
I doubt China is building it to secure western customers, more building it to guarantee a sovereign solution which doesn't require Chinese and allied airlines to buy from western customers.
China has read the tea leaves, knows what's coming their way, are preparing for it. And they seem to be be doing a pretty good job of doing so.
Last I heard, alot of components in the C919, such as avionics, are not from China or even Russia.
The air conditioning is made by Liebherr
The engine's nacelle, thrust reverser and exhaust system will be provided by Nexcelle, with such features as an advanced inlet configuration, the extensive use of composites and acoustic treatment and an electrically operated thrust reverser. Michelin will supply Air X radial tyres. Its integrated modular avionics architecture is based on Ethernet. The landing gear is made in China by a joint venture of Germany's Liebherr and Avic's Landing Gear Advanced Manufacturing Corp: Liebherr LAMC Aviation.
While the airframe is entirely made by Chinese Avic, most systems are made by Western-Chinese joint-ventures: with UTAS for the electric power, fire protection and lighting; with Rockwell Collins for the cabin systems and avionics, with Thales for the IFE, with Honeywell for the flight controls, APU, wheels and brakes; with Moog for the high lift system; with Parker for the hydraulics, actuators and fuel systems, with Liebherr for the landing gear and air management; and the CFM engine and Nexcelle nacelle are entirely foreign.
CFM International LEAP mockup
Pratt & Whitney and CFM International proposed engines for the aircraft, the PW1000G and LEAP-1C respectively; the LEAP-1C was selected.
AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine Co was also tasked with developing an indigenous engine for the aircraft. The ACAE CJ-1000A was unveiled at the 2012 Zhuhai Airshow.
Assembly of the first CJ-1000AX engine was completed in 18 months in December 2017. The planned entry to service was 2021. The engine first ran in May 2018 to 6,600 rpm core speed.
In February 2020, Reuters reported that the US government considered blocking GE from selling the LEAP-1C engine to Comac, citing concerns of reverse engineering, competition for Boeing, and military use of technology. President Donald Trump tweeted opposition, saying that national security should not be grounds for trade restrictions. The US eventually granted GE a license to sell the engines
So any time the US wants to shut C919 down, it can be done pretty fast.
So if China wants to have a homegrown airliner, this ain't it.
True, for now. I imagine it's much easier to build a plane then start replacing imported parts with home-grown variants, much like I'll use other people's libraries to get an app working before I start coding my own replacements for those.
Even if they have to use inferior or sub-standard parts, strip it to the bare bones, they will have something which can fly which is better than having nothing.
China won't become self-sufficient overnight but they are moving towards it incrementally.
You start replacing with inferior / sub-standard parts as you suggest, you going to end up something with a safety issue or inferior specs compared to the competition. Ignoring the fact that it's specs are already inferior to Boeing/Airbus competition.
Not to mention the recertification needed everytime you change something.
I understand Russia struggling to change western Superjet components to Russian components currently.
This AFAIK likely to be China's first mass production commercial aircraft. It is an extremely conservative design because expertise and experience is limited. The Chinese are probably using the C919 to build that expertise and experience for the next generation of aircraft. Plus building up the associated manufacturing infrastructure so they can become more Chinese.
Microsoft taught Excel users that versions 1 & 2 can be a bit iffy but version 3 cracked it.
So it's the C939 that may start to worry Airbus & Boeing.
Indeed, they're building the experience needed from scratch, any international commercial success for this airliner is just a bonus.
It's the same way Japan & Korea industrialized and they get the same comments, knockoff copies, not as good - until they are!
The same process has been applied across all chinese industry for the last thirty years, if you can build it, eventually you can design a better one.
Yep, I remember the killer feature of cheap Japanese cars and motorcycles is they didn't need an oil drip tray in the garage. You know, bringing precision manufacturing to the masses.
The problem is countries that are behind have an imperative to learn fast. And when they have caught up - they have the momentum to go-ahead leaving complacent competitors in the dust.
Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed owned the american airline industry's order book while europe had a fragmented and mostly unsuccessful aircraft manufacturing industry. Then europe decided to get together with some government assistance and catch-up. Now Boeing alone has to share the US and worldwide markets with Airbus and having to play catch-up themselves.
> I remember the killer feature of cheap Japanese cars and motorcycles is they didn't need an oil drip tray in the garage.
The Japanese did more than that, they built the motorbike the British motorcycle were both unable to build and unwilling to build. This meant a 5 foot tall petite woman could ride a Japanese 650, but not the British one it was based on... Hardly surprising the British motorcycling industry went the way it did...
The reason why I know this? My older sister was one of the two blondes' known by repute in the early 70's motorcycle community, who rode Yamaha XS650's.
MORE MURCIAN BLOWHARD... "We can shut you down by Kneecapping Nancy Kerrigan"
China is the largest buyer of Aircraft in the world. They don't need Murica's approval. Airbus is happy for the business. The only component lacking in China's tech arsenal is commercial jet engines, none of which are made in the US but are made in France. Pratt Whitney and Rolls want Chinese business. You accomplish nothing by blocking China from buying engines other than losing global markets. How bloody arrogant you John Waynes are...
C919 is an astonishing achievement.
"Even then though, you'd have thought that the major markets are likely to be Russia and African nations, and possibly South American nations. I doubt that they'll be seen in Europe or North America anytime soon."
That's not really an issue for China. They have an enormously large internal market and plan in decades, not four year election cycles.
Oh, where did you live in Beijing and Shanghai then? You must have some personal experience to back up your claim that they're unpleasant places to live in. Or some other objective score based on all the factors that make a place pleasant or unpleasant - air quality alone is not the universal criteria for desirably (nor is your dislike for the government).
Sure ... again pure BS... Rolls Royce
Rolls-Royce and Air China have announced they are entering into a new 50/50 Joint Venture (JV) maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Beijing, China. The new facility, BAESL (Beijing Aero Engine Services Company Limited), will provide MRO support on the Rolls-Royce Trent 700, Trent XWB-84 and Trent 1000 aero engines. Air China currently has all three engine types in its fleet.
At full capacity, which is expected to be achieved in the mid 2030s, BAESL will be able to support up to 250 shop visits per year. The facility will offer MRO services to Air China as well as our other airline customers based in Greater China and beyond. Today, Rolls-Royce powers 60% of China’s widebody fleet, powering more than 550 aircraft in service or on order. Our Trent 700 engines also power 90% of the country’s Airbus A330 fleet and the Greater China fleet represents 20% of all Trent engines flying today.
The KEY to aircraft independence is maintenance. This applies to any airframes entering China from the globe.
As for air pollution in Beijing, Last year Beijing met its Air Quality standard and this year had a marked 35% improvement over last year. Once again you spout off with no facts at all but loads of xenophobia.
Air quality is certainly improving. It's still shit though (and Shanghai was at times worst than Beijing).
As to independence for maintenance, that's only possible if you also have domestic supply for the spares. Which they currently still don't have. Domestic production of powerplants is still severely lagging behind RR and GE.
Downvoted because this is the same nonsense I've been hearing for the past eighty years wrt the capability of the enemy d'jour. Japan, Russia, Japan again, and now China
FWIW, China has nearly 40,000 km of High Speed Rail operating which looks to be more than half the total in the world. Accidents? Not a lot. One major crash in 2011. HSR may not be as complicated as a modern airliner, but it's pretty complex. It has proved to be well beyond the capability of the US whose flagship "HSR" carrier Acela averages a whopping 66 mph. I think that's about the same as the Super Chief of the 1950s. Anyway, there's no reason other than hubris to believe the Chinese can't build aircraft competitive with Boeing and Airbus.
OTOH, I can't imagine why any airline outside China (and perhaps North Korea) with a choice would opt today for an unproven Chinese airliner over proven designs from the major vendors. ... Maybe, if the Chinese product is really inexpensive to buy and operate they might sell a few outside China. But not a lot?
Mostly this is probably a bet on the future. If the C919 performs adequately in China for a number of years, they may start to sell some outside China. And maybe in a few decades they will be seriously competitive worldwide.
"Maybe, if the Chinese product is really inexpensive to buy and operate they might sell a few outside China. But not a lot?"
If they ramp up production to higher levels than their huge internal market can accommodate, or for "influence" reasons, they will be selling cheaper to non-traditional growing markets such as much of Africa and Asia. I very much doubt they will bet targeting the US or EU markets for at least a decade or two, maybe longer.
You're dismissing poor Chinese build standards as nonsense!? Have you not seen or researched anything regarding the corruption and poor standards in China - its pretty everywhere?!
HSR is not one jot near the complexity of a modern airliner. Certifying an airliner is one thing (and they have struggled badly for this), creating a competitive airliner is another order of magnitude of complexity again. There is every reason to believe that China will never compete with Airbus / Boeing. That demo plane has sat rusting for years as China has struggled to develop it. I've chatted with some European consultants (useful idiots) that China bought in to help develop the plane and its clear that China has neither have the skills or the mindset.
Oh and HSR was not developed by China, reading the same Wikipedia page you did shows that they were built using technology transfer agreements from world-class market leading train makers. You'll also see that its a commercial disaster as well so its not going to wear out soon.
The problem isn't the design. The design might be perfect. It might be the safest plane ever to fly.
The problem comes when some corrupt Chinese supplier decides to ship cardboard wings rather than aluminium wings in order to pocket the difference in cost, or when some dodgy Chinese supplier replaces the fuel tank with a couple of bin-bags that have been taped together with parcel tape.
I won't be getting on one of these things.
Well, Qatar Airways is currently suing Airbus for $1.4bn for delivering substandard paint job, causing grounding of a large part of their fleet. It’s a safety issue, because it’s a lightning risk. It’s not just a few isolated chips, it’s meters squared of exposed chicken wire on the wing surfaces and even raised jagged edges centimetres high on control surfaces, it’s just crazy bad. Airbus aren’t even trying “ok, it does need fixing but it’s your poor maintenance” or anything, they are straight out “nah bruv, it’s supposed to look like that, no probs”.Qatar Airways has explicitly called out the EU Safety Regulator in court, for collusion with Airbus, using those exact words.
Outside the Eurocentric bubble, I don’t think you will find that the 95% of the worlds population with 83% of world GDP, have nearly as high opinion of French engineering QA as you think they do.
I think you should also realise that 95% of the world's population doesn't have the same mental problem regarding the French as some Brits have.
The paint problem is annoying and expensive for Airbus but it's not seen as an air safety problem by anybody else but Quatar.
And I think we know why they took that step.
China's rail network has got a reasonable track record. Us smug types in both the US and UK are struggling to build anything like as extensive or high performing. They've built some other impressive civil engineering projects and one or two space probes.
They're quick learners.
Its a bit disingenuous to say that a civilian aircraft company has to be sanctioned because of "ties to the military". Boeing? Airbus? Literally everyone else? I'm frankly quite sick of being run around buy a bunch of dumb-ass politicians who treat the public like idiots.
Go back to the 1980s and you'd hear exactly the same script being trotted out about Japan.
As far as copying goes, I've been an engineer all my working life. I've designed one or two possibly original things but most could be called copies. There are relatively few truly original ideas put there, most work being iterative development of existing ideas and products.
More wholesale xenophobia and no facts as usual. C919 has been a careful slow process with no Boeing Corners cut. It has excellent engines and the frame is superbly designed. Slightly less speed, and less range, but the cockpit is better than Boeing or Airbus.
But of course, you know all about China having never been there. Keep Yapping vendetta..
300 aircraft is 300 aircraft sales not going to Boeing or Airbus. Boeing BTW is the US single largest exporter Last week a $17 Billion Chinese Deal went to Airbus. Don't think for a minute that Boeing shares your xenophobia. They oppose Trump-Biden Sanctions as destructive to Boeing's business. China is the largest buyer of global aircraft.
And the design might be brilliant.
But when some dodgy Chinese scammer that supplies windows made out of clingfilm rather than polycarbonate in order to save some money and pocket the difference, people will die.
Nobody that doesn't live in a genocidal dictatorship will voluntarily get on one of these death traps.
Criticising China is not xenophobic. Criticising China JUST because they're foreign is. That plane is a dogs breakfast that China has struggled to develop. The engines are 'excellent' as they are not Chinese. The cockpit had to be redesigned to comply with the minimum FAA standards as a result of 'inexperience of the aircraft design process'.
Having been to China a few times I can tell you that if its official policy to say the sky is green, you'll be told the sky is green until the end of time. Point out the opposite too much then you need a holiday in a 're-education' camp. And if you don't like that notion, well men dressed in black come and beat the shite out of you.
Pointing out a few inconvenient truths is not xenophobia, but it is inconvenient.
If they can build a competitive civil jet airliner, they can also build a jet bomber. Lots of subsystems are straight dual-use. Landing gear, turbofan engines, inertial navigation, air conditioning and pressurization, low weight construction techniques, control surfaces,...
Just recently, 6 JÄGER90 and their Tanker Complement, plus the Frigate Bayern were flown to Japan as a Show Of Force against China. And the left hand supplies them with ex fighter pilots and high end aircraft building competence.
What an idiot, the White Man.
Airbus average around 600 aircraft delivered per year, so with an order backlog of around 6000, those customers at the tail end are looking at taking delivery in about 10 years time. The question you need to be asking yourself therefore is how many of the aircraft flying around today will still be operational by then, and how much of that backlog is therefore simply to maintain the status quo vs meeting demand for extra aircraft...
Yes, there are lots of aircraft now in service, and more that are (or could be returned to) working order that have been retired and are sitting in boneyards. Some people deplore what they regard as the aeronautical equivalent of e-waste, but what is driving this is fuel efficiency. A 25 year old commercial aircraft could be perfectly safe to fly but it's a fuel guzzler compared to current models. So whether an airline wants to decrease emissions or simply control operating expenses, it makes sense to replace those old birds with new efficient ones.
The question that immediately popped into my head was how long in time is the backlog of "4,277 Boeing 737s. Airbus' combined A220 and A320 backlog was reported at 6,772"
Boeing production rate is put at 31 a month so at that rate over 11 years!
Airbus production rate as far as I can make out about 85 a month combined for A220 and A320 so nearly 7 years!
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Sorry, what is the Boeing 777 Max? There is no such aircraft.
If you refer to the Boeing 737 Max, that's a wholly different kettle of fish to the Boeing 777. The one design is nearly 50 years old, the other 20 and arguably the safest plane ever built by Boeing (and also one of the safest so far on the planet).
So... which plane are you referring to, please?
Yes, beg your pardon. I did mean the Boeing 737 Max(imum death count, MCAS edition).
The one that was so safe that it ended up being grounded by China, Europe and then the FAA and caused an international scandal over the FAA's performance in regulating Boeing.
If the 737 is the safest plane ever built by Boeing then they are in trouble in the long term, because it's accounted for 4 out of 5 passenger aircraft crashes in the last 5 years. (discounting the 5th 737 shot down by the Iranians)
@Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells
I think we all know they will sell outside of China too, eventually. It's only a question of time, and the home market will keep them busy for a long time.
And then there is the question of trade policy.
I feel no personal urge to fly on a Chinese aircraft but that is because I think it's a good thing to have them produced closer to "home".
And I am not that surprised if the Chinese feel the same, and I think they have become fairly good at producing cars for the domestic market by now.
Worried no doubt like the Americans too. But the worry is about competition around the world.
What you like to call artificial barriers (a silly word and wrongly spelled) is about trade agreements.
Nobody is forced to buy a single Chinese car, but as countries like to also export to China they will have an agreement on what can be exported and imported, hopefully not using a "Truss" for that.
I had one of the very first Toyotas in Europe, a Toyota Corona 1966 1,5L.
It served me well and was totally problem free, unexciting, (the next was an Alfa Romeo 1750 with every possible problem, but exciting).
The big joke then was - Lars when will you get a real Yota.
I saw the Toyota more than 20 years later in the traffic, still looking sound.
Anyway, will the Chinese manage the same, who knows, but they will try, but regardless we still produce cars in Europe too.
And the number one and two in the world are Toyota and VW.
and the home market will keep them busy for a long time.
Y'know, you're likely right. Setting up a production line for a product like a jet aircraft is surely a major effort. And it probably isn't easily sped up. I was treated to a tour of the Douglas Aircraft DC6 production line in Santa Monica about six decades ago. A huge building. They started putting the airframe together at one end and towed it step by step to the other adding parts until a finished aircraft emerged.
Not a rapid process I think. To give some idea of the speed, they were in the process of switching to a stretch version of the aircraft. The planes rolling off the completed end were the older version. About half way back along the line, the aircraft being built suddenly got longer and wider. Not only did the aircraft get wider, so did the factory building. They were moving the factory walls out one station at a time as aircraft needing the extra width moved up the line.
Maybe things are different and speedier now. But maybe not. My impression is that aircraft have only gotten more complex and construction more demanding over time.
I suggest that when you're ever in Hamburg in Germany or in Toulouse in France, that you book yourself (weeks ahead in advance) on a works tour. It will blow. your. mind.
Even as someone who is not particularly impressed by much these days (having been spoilt with factory tours by proxy at Boeing and others), Airbus's tour (in person) was impressive. Their FAL and then the completion building (standing at cockpit level with an A380 and seeing an A320 almost under the wing of the A380 just to indicate size) were impressive. Of course, no photos exist because Airbus has a strictly 'no photographs please' policy (and even despite that someone in our group tried and promptly caused a security incident).
I believe Boeing does similar tours in limited numbers. Don't ever turn one down. Ever.
>I can't imagine many people outside of China volunteering to get on a Chinese made aircraft
...and yet people travel on what looks on the outside a bit like a smaller 737 that's made by a Brazilian company. (Its a bit more comfortable on the inside than the 737 because it only supports 2+1 seating.)
That's why the engines are being teased to within an inch of their life (well, thousands of an inch, really) to wring the most power out of the least amount of fuel. That's also why newer planes (like the Boeing 777-X series now in testing) get bigger, more aerodynamic wings and both Boeing and Airbus constantly test new things like boundary layer flow, sustainable aviation fuels, electric aviation and the like. The more aerodynamic the planes can be and the more power you can get out of little amounts of fuel, the more efficient a plane is and the less it costs to operate.