Summary of China’s First Homegrown Passenger Jet Takes Off

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In May 2017, China’s first big jetliner, the C919, took to the sky for its premier test flight. As state-run Comac (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) further develops the model, China aims to become one of the world’s top makers of large commercial aircraft. Hou Yunlong, reporter for Economic Information Daily, China’s earliest national economic newspaper, writes a raving review of China’s stride into the international aviation market and outlines a rosy future for China’s aviation industry. (Other critics believe Boeing or Airbus needn’t fret just yet. Comac stipulates that even international bidders must manufacture in China, but provides no intellectual property protection. International suppliers, knowing that their technology may end up in the hands of local competitors, will only agree to provide dated technology. Thus Comac’s insistence on local production may be detrimental.) Industry experts will be familiar with the insights of this article, but getAbstract recommends it to general-interest readers who want to know which industries are up-and-coming in China. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • What the test flight of the first Chinese-built jetliner means to China’s aviation industry, and
  • How China’s aviation industry will develop.

About the Author

Hou Yunlong is a reporter for Economic Information Daily. Founded in 1981 and sponsored by Xinhua News Agency, the journal is China’s earliest national economic newspaper.



On May 5, 2017, China’s first big jetliner, the C919, made its maiden flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Built by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), the C919 is a single-aisle, twin-engine plane with a capacity to seat up to 168 passengers. According to Comac chairman Jin Zhuanglong, the aircraft will go through a series of trials on avionics and flight control, as well as on its hydraulic and static system. If everything goes smoothly, it will complete the technical verification in 2017 and start the production and delivery phase in 2018. Meanwhile, the research and development of jet engines by Aero Engine Corporation of China is also in full swing. These domestically made engines will probably make their debut in 2030 and power C919s and successive models. Such events represent milestones in the history of China’s aviation industry and signal China’s ascendance in the global aviation market.
The emergence of the C919, along with supporting policies that China’s government will introduce, will create demands across multiple fields. Experts predict that China’s aviation industry will grow into a trillion-dollar market. In 2015, Chinese people traveled by air 167% more than a decade earlier. Boeing predicts that China will need more than 7,000 airplanes by 2050, which would create the world’s largest commercial aviation market. By 2030, the global demand for the likes of the C919 will reach 14,500 units, and China will own an estimated 2,650 of them. Comac forecasts that the sales of the C919 will exceed 2,000 units, generating a business worth more than $100 billion. So far, a total of 23 customers from both home and abroad have put in 570 orders for C919 jetliners. China’s jet engine market will prosper as well, since global demand for engines is likely to stay strong. Government officials project that the market will exceed ¥100 billion ($14.6 billion dollars) in 2025.
Wu Guanghui, the chief designer of the C919, predicts that the jetliner won’t only benefit China’s aviation industry, but also the overall development of the sector. At present, the production and assembly of C919 planes involve hundreds of enterprises in the cities of Shanghai, Xi’an and Shenyang and their surrounding areas. The industry’s value chain includes a variety of subsectors – aviation manufacturing, metal processing, new materials and avionics equipment among others. Five aviation clusters will form in the eastern, northeastern, northwestern, southwestern and central parts of China.

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