Domestic jet development backed by political system

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/27 23:38:41

When will the C919, the first large passenger plane designed and built by China, take to the skies? The highly anticipated moment will take place in early May, according to media reports. On Wednesday, the European Aviation Safety Agency noted it had already started the certification process for the C919. Analysts believe that China is ready to compete with Airbus and Boeing for a slice of global jet sales.

Despite the fact that the C919 is not technically 100 percent made in China, the core research, development and manufacturing of the plane were completed independently in the country. Breakthroughs in new technologies, new materials and new industrial skills have prompted a great turnaround in the Chinese aviation sector.

The recent launch of China's first domestically built aircraft carrier and the coming maiden flight of the C919 are undoubtedly proof that the nation's manufacturing is taking a giant leap. However, the future challenges will be enormous if we want to make it to the next level.

Take the C919, produced by the Shanghai-based Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). It does not have any market feedback or experience of long flight hours over its safety and efficiency yet. When it comes to a payoff, it takes production of around 500-600 aircraft before a model starts to turn a profit, which would "typically amount to around 10 years of production," as analyzed by the Economist. It would be an extravagant hope to see COMAC challenging the dominance of Airbus and Boeing in the global aviation market any time soon.

Before participating in international competition, China-made planes still have many difficulties to overcome. For instance, will they acquire airworthiness certificates smoothly? Can we keep the momentum of developing more core techniques and patents in this field? How do we establish a reliable brand image and global service systems?

Taking all that into consideration, how to further boost the manufacturing industry has become a crucial task which China is now facing. Achieving the goal requires not only the policies, but more importantly, political leadership to guide and guarantee development.

Thanks to the advantage of China's political system - once a decision is made, it will be implemented efficiently without distractions - the nation displayed strong momentum in economic development over the past decades given the sturdy support from the government and coordination from various industries.

With the help of such favorable conditions, the nation's substantial support for technical innovation as well as Chinese people's spirit of working hard in defiance of difficulties, it won't be too long before China transforms from a world factory into a world tech hub, a real leading industrial superpower.

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