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Friendly Skies Redux

March 1, 2012

I can remember about thirty years ago when China used a bunch of stolen IP from GE and tried to build their own jet engine for their own jet.  Neither got off the ground, and it made for some funny cartoons.

Well, no more.

Spearheading this push is the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) C919, a 168-190 seat narrow-body airline design which will be China’s biggest commercial plane when it takes off for testing in 2014.

Design and assembly of the aircraft will be done in Shanghai and although the first deliveries will not be made until 2016, China has bold plans that could help break the long-standing duopoly of Boeing and Airbus.

There are still likely some serious international hurdles, as the article notes.  However, there’s plenty of domestic business that can prop up a company like this.  And I see this as a trend that matters… China is moving rapidly from a producer of someone else’s ideas to building a significant presence in some key global industries.  They’re not thinking small, and I almost wonder if they’re happy to let the rest of the world assume that they’re just providers of someone else’s shlock.

China, to me, has an interesting model in its abiliity to test a lot of stuff internally and hide a lot of costs as a result.  China is all about labor, mostly since they have quite a lot of it.  And China is generally patient enough to let its internal experiments grow until they can be taken seriously.  When I see ambitious projects like this, I get excited and frightened at the same time, and I wonder when we’ll start looking at China as a viable competitor as opposed to an interesting producer of our ideas.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. JWoods permalink
    March 5, 2012 9:52 am

    I am in no way ever going to fly in a jet made in China! My reason, I put together a storage rack made in China this weekend. Ever try to put nuts on bolts where the hole in the nuts are off center. If they can’t drill a hole in a nut that is centered, their Jets should make flying interesting to say the least. I picture in my mind the Chevy Volt with wings.

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