China joins the “big jet club”

Staff Report | DFW Newsflash | November 2017

BEIJING, — In October, before U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to China, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China signed an agreement on the implementation procedures of the bilateral airworthiness agreement. The document marked a full and reciprocal recognition of jet aircraft between the two countries. It’s of great significance in the path of China’s self-developed C919 to obtain an airworthiness certification from the United States and the European Union.

What consequences will it have? In the global aviation market, the most common passenger jets are made by only a handful of companies, such as Boeing and Airbus. The signing of the agreement means that China will also enter the “big jet club.”

Compared with the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, China’s C919 boasts a rate of fuel consumption between 13 percent and 15 percent lower, and a reduction in wind resistance of 3 percent. This means that the C919 can fly faster with less fuel consumption than its Boeing and Airbus counterparts. Moreover, the Chinese jet has a more comfortable cabin.

China’s C919 is also safe, as the country has very strict standards on aviation safety: the accident rate should be maintained within 0.3 accidents per million hours, reaching the world’s advanced level. It means that one won’t come across an accident unless he or she spends 10 hours onboard every week for 5,000 to 6,000 years.

In fact, China developed its own passenger aircraft, the Y-10, as early as the 1970s with its maiden flight successfully taking place in 1980. However, regretfully, the project ran aground later for certain reasons. It was not until 2008 that China began to develop another type of large aircraft – the C919, which conducted its successful maiden flight in May this year as well as its first long-distance course-changing flight on November 10. Now, the number of orders for the C919 has reached 730, including from overseas customers.

For many years, China has never wavered in its determination to produce independently-developed large aircrafts. Now, with a broad market demand and a strong national foundation, it is perfect timing for the C919 to enter the stage. At present, there are very few countries with large aircraft manufacturing capabilities in the world. The fact that China can independently design and manufacture a large civilian aircraft which meets international airworthiness standards is a reflection of the country’s overall strength in science, technology and manufacturing.

The recently-concluded 19th CPC National Congress particularly stressed the issues of driving economic development with innovation, expanding major scientific and technological programs, and turning China into a science and technology giant and a manufacturer of high quality.

Currently, there is still a technological gap in relation to the manufacturing of large aircrafts between China and developed countries, and the engines of the C919 are still provided by international companies. However, in the long run, it is quite possible that, like China’s high-speed railway development, its large aircrafts will be made completely from independent research and production and will march towards the forefront of the world through fully integrating domestic and foreign technologies. That day will be worth the wait, and we believe it will surely come.