China getting into the airliner business

It is a move that I cannot quite figure out, but it seems that China’s national government has decided that they want to be in the airplane manufacturing business. And they aren’t looking at smaller regional jets or prop planes. They’re going after full size and jumbos, planning to make airplanes with capacities of 150 passengers or more.

I get that having only two companies making planes doesn’t leave a lot of room for negotiations, and I understand that the demand in China, along with its population and vast cash reserves make it a prime candidate for an upstart in the industry. But either they’re being very coy or they have no intention of producing a plane in the near future.

General manager Jin Zhuanglong said in a Xinhua interview that it was too early to say when a Chinese-developed jumbo jet would be taking off, as it would take a long time to develop homegrown talent and do research.

“According to the development history of Airbus and Boeing, the development and success of civil planes cannot be realized by relying on one or two generations,” he said.

In other words, it is going to take a while. So while they may have money to burn, this seems a strange way to spend it.

Then again, Tupelov built passable replicas of the Boeing planes relatively quickly, thanks to some decent industrial espionage. I wonder if the Airbus assembly plant in China is looking at tighter security these days…

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.