Hundreds of large planes fly in and out of Chinese airports
daily but none sports a Made-in-China label.
The picture will change in 10 to 15 years, when
indigenously-developed large aircraft offer more choice to airlines
which fly only Boeing or Airbus.
"The large-plane project is being carefully studied," Huang
Qiang, secretary-general of the Commission of Science, Technology
and Industry for National Defense, said yesterday.
"We estimate that within two or three Five-Year-Plan periods,
our large plane will come into use."
It was the first time officials specified a timetable for a
project which Huang said has led to widespread interest among the
public and would cause some nervous moments for foreign aircraft
In China, key projects are usually part of national five-year
plans; and a large plane was listed as a priority project in the
11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), during which design of the aircraft
would start, commission officials said earlier.
There have been mounting calls from the public for an early
implementation of the large plane project, a program that "has also
kept some in (global aviation giants) Boeing and Airbus on their
toes," Huang told a press conference on the sidelines of the
commission's annual work conference yesterday in Beijing.
Used for both military and civilian purposes, large aircraft
have a load capacity of at least 100 tons; and a passenger carrier
of that size usually has 200 seats, experts said.
Huang said the large-aircraft project can build on the expertise
and experience of the aviation industry, particularly of the ARJ21,
China's advanced regional jet whose manufacture started in December
The China Aviation Industry Corp I (AVIC I) has clinched 71
orders for ARJ21 jets, even though the regional plane will have
test flights only next year, according to Huang.
The reasons for its success are that the company offers
medium-capacity jets of the best quality at a competitive price,
which best suits Chinese market needs, according to Liu Gaozhuo,
former AVIC I president, who said he believed the same would be
true for China's large aircraft.
In its latest market outlook, the AVIC I-affiliated Aviation
Industry Development Research Centre said China needs 2,230
large-sized planes through 2025, by which time Boeing expects the
number to reach 3,900. Boeing and Airbus are sole suppliers of
large planes to China.
The announcement of the large-plane program comes on the heels
of last week's unveiling of Jian-10, the home-made new-generation
fighter jet made by AVIC I.
(China Daily January 9, 2007)