Following the news that China’s domestically manufactured COMAC C919 will make its first flight outside mainland China, Kandlikar Venkatesh, an analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company, offered his view:
“The development of the COMAC C919 represents a significant achievement for China in the narrowbody aircraft segment. Comparable to industry giants such as the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX, the C919 signifies China’s prowess in the aircraft manufacturing sector. While its immediate impact on Boeing and Airbus remains uncertain, the C919’s substantial orders within China have the potential to challenge the market share of established passenger aircraft manufacturers and reshape the industry dynamics.
“Marking a foundational step in the advancement of China’s aviation capabilities, the C919 has amassed a remarkable 1,191 total orders, as estimated by GlobalData, in the commercial fixed-wing market. With plans to ramp up production capacity in the coming years, COMAC is positioned to strengthen its foothold in the Chinese narrowbody market. According to GlobalData, Chinese airlines and private entities are projected to spend approximately $280.1 billion on commercial fixed-wing aircraft over the next ten years to meet the country’s commercial fixed-wing fleet demand.
“Presently, C919 heavily relies on key components such as engines and avionics systems sourced from companies based in the Western world. Joint ventures and partnerships with Chinese firms in COMAC’s supply chain showcase a nuanced interdependence. However, the strategic requirement for foreign suppliers to manufacture specific C919 parts within China reflects a deliberate approach to technology transfer and local production, aligning with China’s objective to transition most production domestically over time.
“The popularity of the C919 outside China remains uncertain and mostly depends on overcoming challenges such as a singular model approach, limited certification, and uncertain global regulatory approval. Overcoming these factors could reshape the global aviation landscape, marking a significant step in China’s rise as a major player in the aerospace industry.”