China celebrates breakthrough in commercial aircraft

The Comac C919 recently took off on a passenger flight for the first time.  (Image source: Pixabaygarten-gg)

The Comac C919 recently took off on a passenger flight for the first time. (Image source: Pixabay/garten-gg)

China is without a doubt the factory of the world and in the long run wants to become completely independent from the West. But the Middle Kingdom has by no means caught up with or even overtaken the West in all sectors.

For example, the highly complex exposure systems for the production of microchips come from the Netherlands – with a significant contribution from Germany. Nevertheless, China is catching up. For example, benchmarks for a gaming graphics card that can at least partially compete with modern accelerators have only recently appeared.

Civil aviation is also dominated by the West, namely by Boeing and Airbus. At least so far. Because China has now let its first self-made commercial aircraft take to the skies. Congratulations at this point Maiden flight with Comac C919 passengers – the maiden flight without passengers took place in 2017.

The new prestige project started a few weeks ago, specifically on May 28, 2023, from Shanghai Airport and landed successfully on the runway of Beijing Airport two hours later. All under the flag of China Eastern Airlines. The company immediately ordered an entire fleet of C919s.

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A big step with great help from the West

As overwhelming as the flight may be from a Chinese perspective, there’s a huge catch. Although the C919 has been under development at Comac since 2008, the traffic machine is packed with technology from the West. This applies in particular to the engines and most of the avionics system.

The engines, for example, come from the European group CGM International. The streamlined body of the engines, including the thrust reverser, is again manufactured in the USA by Nexcelle. The tires are from Michelin of France. For avionics (electrical and electronic equipment, including flight instruments), joint ventures led by Western companies were launched. Incidentally, the chassis and ventilation system come from Germany – from Liebherr Aerospace.

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Only the frame, i.e. the structure of the C919, was developed entirely in China. But that’s probably just the beginning. Sooner or later all parts should come from independent Chinese production. A goal that China is pursuing in all areas and there are few doubts that it will be implemented.

Apart from China’s plans to be as self-sufficient as possible, it is generally normal that parts of machines as large as airplanes are manufactured at several locations around the world.

how do you see it? Is this a big step for China towards greater independence from the West, or does it just prove that China is still very dependent on Western technology? Write it to us in the comments!

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