Asia Minute: Why China’s New Plane is a Big Deal

May 4, 2017

Credit Flickr / Kentaro IEMOTO@Tokyo

When China makes the news these days, it’s often in the context of North Korea, or Beijing’s regional economic influence. But a domestic development this week may have far-reaching consequences. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


If the weather holds tomorrow in Shanghai, one of China’s many state-owned enterprises will roll out a small but potentially crucial part of the country’s future.

The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China will host the first flight of the C-919 - China’s first domestically-produced large passenger plane.

The official Xinhua news agency says the aircraft has taken eleven years to develop at a cost of more than 6.5 billion dollars.

The reason it’s so important has something to do with government. But a lot more to do with business and a still-developing global marketplace.

The C-919 airplane can seat roughly the same number of passengers as certain models of the Boeing 737 from the United States or the Airbus A-320 from Europe—up to now, the dominant players in a two-way commercial race.

But the field is growing.

The International Air Transport Association predicts the number of air travelers will nearly double in less than twenty years.

And then there’s trade.

Up to now, aircraft have been one of the few consistent success stories when it comes to U.S. exports---including those to China.

Check any listing of leading U.S. exports and aircraft and aircraft parts will be right up there.

And in the near future, they’ll have more company---and competition.