Beijing is going to challenge Airbus and Boeing by making its own commercial aircraft. A senior official with the China Aviation Industry Corporation says they have set a target of completing designs for a large aircraft by 2010 and plan to be building them by 2020.
It makes economic sense as China is expected to buy 2,230 new planes between now and 2025. At the moment Boeing has the most aircraft in service in China, but in the last two years Airbus has received the majority of the orders there. Brazil’s Embraer supplies small regional jets from a plant it opened there in 2004, but China is also developing its own regional planes.
A major reason why China can think about building larger passenger aircraft is because it has gained expertise through making parts for the big two. A third of the Boeing planes in service, and more than half of all Airbuses contain parts made in Chinese plants. Both companies have joint venture factories there and Airbus is to build a Chinese assembly line for the mid-sized A320s.
Initially the locally produced rival planes to Airbus and Boeing are expected to be sold domestically as China is the world’s second-largest market for aircraft after the US, but eventually they could be exported.