Boeing, Airbus showcase technology, manufacturing commitments at Zhuhai Airshow

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 November, 2016, 9:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 5:19pm

Aviation giants from the US and Europe were out in force at the Airshow China 2016, showcasing their aircraft as well as their commitments to locate a share of production in what is expected to become the world’s largest single market for new passenger planes.

The major civilian aircraft makers who presented their views at the aviation exhibition held in the southeast city of Zhuhia from November 1 to 6 could agree on one thing: China is or is about to become the most important game in town when it comes to passenger aircraft.

China’s aviation market will require 5,970 new aircraft worth US$945 billion over the next two decades, according to Airbus. Boeing forecast that China will need 6,810 new aircraft worth more than US$1 trillion. The country’s domestic jet maker, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac), was even more aggressive in its forecasts, saying 6,865 passenger planes were expected to be delivered in China by 2035.

Other aviation experts forecast the number of air passengers in China will grow 6.4 per cent per year in the coming two decades, outpacing the global average of 4.8 per cent.

In a bid to win orders from domestic Chinese carriers, Boeing and Airbus have established production facilities within China.

Boeing’s newly built facility in Zhoushan, near Shanghai, will conduct finishing work and delivery preparations for its best-selling B-737 narrowbody jets to Chinese airlines.

Darren Hulst, Boeing’s managing director for marketing in north-east Asia said: “Chinese suppliers provide us a parts for 8,000 of our aircraft worldwide, so we anticipate China will play an increasing role in our production system.”

Earlier this year Airbus started construction on a second production facility in China.  Airbus currently assembles the A320 family of narrowbody aircraft in Tianjin, a facility in operation for about 10 years.

“The decision we made 10 years ago [to build production factory] was right,” said Chen Juming, president of Airbus China.

Domestic Chinese aircraft manufacturer Comac has also joined the race to compete for future aircraft orders.

The jet maker recently launched the twin-engine ARJ21, which can carry between 70 and up to 105 passengers. The model will directly compete with Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier in the market for short-distance aircraft.

Comac has also developed a single-aisle, narrowbody plane known as the C919. The aircraft, which can carry between 150 and 190 passengers, is scheduled for its maiden test flight later this year, according to Comac’s assistant president Guo Bozhi.

China Eastern Airlines last week said it was in talks to buy up to five C919s. Comac said it had clinched 23 new orders for the C919, taking total orders to 570.

Comac is seeking to produce a twin-aisle, long-haul commercial aircraft with Russia’s United Aircraft Corp that will compete with Airbus’ A330 and A350 models, as well as Boeing’s 777 and 787 models.