Podcast: 10 Minutes About China’s Commercial Aviation Industry

Jan. 19, 2021, © Leeham News: Today’s edition is 10 Minutes About China’s commercial aviation industry.

China has one airliner in service, a second in flight testing and a third on the drawing board. Production is still a challenge.

We discuss how viable the airliners are and a bit about production–all in 10 minutes.

Leeham News and Analysis
Podcast: 10 Minutes About China's Commercial Aviation Industry

27 Comments on “Podcast: 10 Minutes About China’s Commercial Aviation Industry

  1. I made this collage a decade ago. Do not underestimate the Chinese aerospace industry, they have dedicated universities, research institutes, competing companies, defense and space programs, smart folks, time and resources. They decided they want to build their own aircraft & are getting there.


    There’s thousands of former CEO’s repeating the matras the Chinese just copy and that innovation & brilliance is ours. Ignoring reality.

    Trump realized, but he made sure nobody took him serious, by lying so often it became normal and removing all realist around him.

    • I agree entirely.
      And the continuing acrimony between the US and China is only further incentivizing the Chinese to become self-sufficient in multiple technological areas, including aviation.

      • Bryce:

        China needs no incentive, they are hell bent on taking over the immediate region followed by anything else they can roll under.

        You can look at the South China Sea claims.

        But the imperialist rhetoric was put paid to rest a long time ago on Tibet, the Indian Border regions and now expansionist policy that long term includes Hawaii (see third Island Chain)

        The US was not immune to that (nor the European powers) but the US has never claimed the Pacific Ocean.

        You can see where they are going with the Uyghurs concentration camps and Hong Kong. The only thing that stops expansionist force is equal or more force.

        China has become what they accused others of being for so long.

      • It’s good if US pull against China, there are rules everyone has to follow. So if it’s against China and Boeing, they both deserve it and there are others and other topics.

        China aviation will go up, hard work will do it but it takes time.
        And Boeing is digging their hole deeper. You have to imagine this, they produced garbage 787 fuselages for 10 years … who taught them … at least some trolls will be unemployed soon.

      • A deeper problem is that sanctions against Russia over issues that shouldn’t matter (western banks upset they didn’t get to plunder assets through dodgy privatisations) the CIS’s need to maintain friendly regimes on its southern borders with Iran, Syria etc) and other “special relationships”. These sanctions have driven Russia deeper into relationship with China when Russia wanted integration into the west. I don’t appreciate the media driven “Trump Derangement Syndrome” that defies sobriety. Trump at least recognised the danger of China eclipsing western manufacturing forever and the loss of control and power as well as the costs of isolating Russia. Russia-China is a powerful relationship and its stupid that its happening.

        • Russia and China are indeed re-kindling their old relationship.
          They’re already co-operating on a joint widebody program, and Russia has a turbofan industry that could potentially supply COMAC.
          Several cargo trains per week travel between cities in China and a variety of cities in Europe, and most of their journey is on either the Trans-Siberian railroad or a more southerly route through Kazachstan, followed by a few thousand km on Russian soil. Yet another reason for China to stay chummy with Russia.

    • These narratives tend to flip from they are Pygmies to they are 12 ft tall.

      The vast majority of China success is due to partners and stealing.

      As stand alone, like their vaccine, its outdated. Does not mean it won’t work but its not cutting edge. A turboprop is one area (though it needs a good engine).

      As a self served market, they may make some of it work.

      But note, even on something mundane as a Trainer Jet engine, they are buying they from the Ukraine.

      Most of their programs are a generation behind and the one that is not is joint venture with Russia that is in trouble. They need engines and certification’s both of which they have failed at.

      State owned and directed is always going to be lame and slow.

      Non state is going to be suppressed.

      And reckoning with slavery is a It Never Goes Away reckoning, the US is a poster child for that.

      • Transworld, I think that’s a bit of the old school thinking we were raised in, as cold war kids. The others having something superior must be inferior afterall or stolen, from us. Learned young & cultivated endlessly via newspapers, books, tv, blockbusters, daily news selections. And don’t ask.

        Same with the Chinese, if we see them outperforming us, we comfort ourselves with the thought it’s unfair, rotten somehow. Do you think the chinese and lame and slow? Think again..

        The aircraft from the collage are in series production now. The eminent H-20 roll out in Xi’an will probably be followed by 1st flight before we can find the expert to dismiss it. A week later it becomes clear they completed 4..

      • Transworld,

        Here’s an idea: just Accept China for what it is and get used to the fact that the United States of America will soon be #2 – in everything. Ya’ see, for China to be #1 is the historical norm for the past 2500 years…not some accident. And here is why:

        1. China has a huge population of the smartest people on earth (hey..,the IQ scores prove it) and they graduate 10 times the engineers than does the USA..

        2. The Chinese save money like….the Chinese. No civilization has ever been as frugal as the Chinese…it’s just just who they are. As a result, the Chinese put a lot of money in banks and so there is never a shortage of money to lend.

        3. The Chinese Government for the most part, has sought to be a meritocracy since the days of Confucious – about 2500 years. Due to the reforms put in place by the liked of Deng Xiaopeng, the Chinese government is closer to being a meritocracy than it has ever been.

        Bottom Line: the Chinese are a smart and frugal people with excellent leadership – with money and manpower reserves that only the gods could dream of.


        Meanwhile, while the Chinese are not busy conducting the largest civilizational build-out in history, they are going to master Photolithography and the building of Jet Engines – and they will soon become #1 in both Aerospace and Electronics. And no one can stop it.

        Remember – China as #1 is just a reversion to the normal historical order – and 2500 years of history says so.

      • @ TW
        The Chinese were never pygmies…they were always 12 feet tall.
        For millennia, China was the major power in Asia. It was muzzled 200 years ago by European colonial activities in its back yard, notably the Opium Wars. Then came various conflicts with Japan, culminating with Japanese occupation during WWII. After that came the Mao disaster. All you’re seeing now is a return to what the country once was. And of course its claims to the South China Sea are ludicrous, but that’s just posturing. One way or another, it has nothing to do with China’s ability to develop and produce commercial aircraft.

    • It would be smart for Xi to open up the market to private enterprises. How about starting from rj??

  2. McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Airbus and a number of suppliers (UTC) have been setting up factories and their supply chain in LCC (low cost countries) for decades. With the 787, McNern@#$&y tried it on steroids. Majority stock holders care little who builds their planes for sale. Trouble is they have shot themselves in the foot long term.

  3. Air Lease chairman expects AB to eventually capture 65% of NB market, citing superior economics of A321neo, which seats more passengers at lower operating costs than MAX.

  4. Mr Leon your disdain for everything US is amazing. The garbage 787 is the most efficient wide body at the moment. It has also delivered 994 already. That is more than the excellent A350 entire order. Also at Boeing darkest hour they delivered 32 more wide body than your precious Airbus. Just to let you know I have stock in EADSY.

    • Daveo,

      wait for the next major checks, 787 will be grounded because the fuselage issues can’t be fixed.
      I’m sure Hawaiian is regretting the change to 787.
      Tim Clark stopped talking about the 787.
      Boeing will have to take all 787 back from its Gold customer Norwegian.

      Read what Bjorn wrote about the 800nm ZEROe, a 0.5% efficiency loss. This was the first time I saw that Bjorn recognized the efficient A330 trim and there is another point Bjorn will have to recognize, I’m waiting for that.
      Beside that the A330neo has much better wings.
      Its higher OEW doesn’t matter much because it can carry many pax too at lower MTOW. Efficiency is about takeoff weight per seat.

    • Boeing’s darkest hour didn’t come yet.

      787 firm configuration from 2005:
      95.5t OEW … 248 pax … 7650-8000nm
      Who wouldn’t want to buy such plane?
      With this SCAM Boeing got 915 orders till end of 2008.

      If Boeing would know how to fix the 787 fuselage they would have delivered at least one 787 last month.

  5. Why should the Chinese totally outwardly invest in Boeing and Airbus commercial aircraft compared to developing their own commercial aircraft industry (e.g. ARJ21, C919 and CR929)? Boeing and Airbus forecast over 8,000 aircraft are needed in China in the next 20 years. So let’s say when China totally ramps up production by 2030, 50 a year ARJ21, 150 a year C919 and 50 a year CR929…250 aircraft a year x 20 is 5,000. They could take care of over half their requirements. But even half that production…is 2,500 or about 1/3 of the requirements (more realistic) That leaves 4,500 commercial aircraft up for grabs But this China bashing by the US admin (geopolitical issues and US sanctions) will give way to EU suppliers on Chinese aircraft programs and Airbus getting the major of the commercial aircraft (not produced by China) Remember the Golden Rule! Whoever has the gold, makes the rules!! Final thought…the US has less than 5% of the world’s total population The 21st Century will be Southeast Asia’s time to grow and shine!

  6. 1) B787 had couple years head start than A350.

    2) Corp. Boeing was clueless how much the 787 program would cost: they still believed in eventual materialization of pp presentation: low R&D expenditure, low cost of production due to outsourcing.

    3) Boeing literally gave their jets away to win orders away from AB. The rest, is history, as they say.

    4) Boeing had to ramp up production recklessly to financial engineering (promises of higher production in exchange of lower unit cost from suppliers) a profitable 787 program.


    “In short, the 787 was sold to airlines for half as much as it probably should’ve been and cost 400% more to manufacture than Boeing expected.”

    “The record production rates were there to satisfy demand, but also were the only way to make the program profitable and keep the suppliers in line. It also gave us the massive bursting bubble once COVID-19 arrived.”

  7. One third of the A350xwb was converted from A350 1.0 . American Airlines said they paid less than a 100 million and they still cancelled. Don’t kid yourself that Leahy did not giveaway A350xwb. I have a reliable source for what Qatar paid for their 80 orders.

    • Daveo,

      So…Airbus gave up a lot of the value of the A350 – it’s a known fact and is well documented via Airbus presentations that were posted on the web. However, Airbus will eventually make money on the A350 program.

      But…Boeing appears to have so jacked-up the 787 Program that they will suffer a reach-around loss that will drain away any hope for profit.

    • 1) Do you know how many 787 are sold below cost?

      2) Boeing initially forecasted deferred production costs would peak at $20 billion, but that ballooned to $25 billion by 2013.

      3) Without program accounting, BCA would not be profitable (quite likely a small loss) for the period between 2011 and 2016.

      4) Boeing gobbled up about 450 orders before 2007.

      • Back in 2013

        Boeing Bleeding Cash As 787 Dreamliners Cost $200M But Sell For $116M

    • Current est. for 787 to break-even is producing six a month. Boeing is about to cut below that.

  8. 787 was 2003 and A350xwb was 2006. You think three years from now Airbus will deliver 900 aircraft.

  9. I work heavy maintenance structures in aircraft. With all due respect there is nothing that cannot be fixed. I am also certify on composite. People come on the internet and write about what they know nothing about.Nothing on the 787 and A350xwb fuselage that cannot be fixed.

    • You can fix everything in your backyard. But you can’t fix something without certification in aviation.
      The method you want to use to fix this must match with your cert calculations. We already know how Boeing did calculations, read the MAX crash reports, garbage assumptions like 1+1=3.
      This will surface now, Boeing is hiding, but this will surface.
      This all only became public because Boeing engineers complained for a long time. Boeing knows this for nearly one year and they still have no solution to fix this after nearly one year.
      Without certified solution it’s only a question of time when all 787 are grounded.

  10. Comac R&D Center in Seattle? (only partial article)

    Now let’s take this one step farther for fun…Comac C919 Final Assembly Line in Seattle, C919 has over 50% US content…then go for FAA cert and ship globally from Seattle (Pudong FAL to service China). In that way US engines and avionics are not exported to China Ship in the wings and fuselage from China (e.g. A320 FAL Alabama) to Seattle FAL Maybe rent space Everett site LOL


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