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China's new jumbo-jet firm no threat to Airbus, Boeing: state media

by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) May 12, 2008
China's new aerospace firm charged with building jumbo-jets sought to reassure global giants Airbus and Boeing that it would not pose a threat to them for another 20 years, state press reported Monday.

The launch of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China on Sunday has the backing of the top level of government, with Premier Wen Jiabao underscoring the need for the country to pursue independent innovation.

"China should by all means conduct overall design and final assembly of large aircraft by itself," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Wen as saying.

There was no indication in the media report about when the company would build its first plane, although analysts said China would need at least 15 years of development.

Despite its goal of eventually challenging Airbus and Boeing, the global giants of commercial aviation, fulfilling the ambition will take time, said Jin Zhuanglong, president of the new aerospace group.

"China's jumbo jet program will not pose a threat to Boeing and Airbus, at least in the coming 20 years," Jin said in Monday's China Daily, an English-language paper whose readership is aimed at the foreign community.

"Even when China has the capacity to produce large jets it would be able to meet only a small part of domestic demand. Boeing and Airbus will continue to claim a big chunk of the Chinese market."

Given the immense technological task China faces and that other nations with better technology have also tried to crack the jumbo jet market, analysts were also somewhat sceptical about the project's chance for success.

"Both Japan and Canada have tried, but because Airbus and Boeing keep their technology sealed off, they have both failed," said Chen Jianhui, an aviation analyst at Industrial Securities.

"We are facing the same technological difficulties," said Chen.

"It is very difficult to say that once the plane is built that it will be successful," said Chen. "It is merely a first step in a journey of 10,000 miles."

But if China's nascent commercial aviation industry was to one day mature, China has the advantage of massive domestic demand which is expected to grow by up to 3,700 new airplanes over the next 20 years.

"Other than the technology issue, Japan and other countries failed because their markets are too small," said Feng Fuzhuang, analyst at Citics China Securities.

But China's needs so many (planes) and its territory is vast, within 20 years the country will still be able to take in several hundred new jets a year," said Feng.

China would also be looking to overseas firms to invest in the majority government owned company, which has 19 billion yuan (2.7 billion dollars) in start-up capital.

"We welcome foreign suppliers, and will purchase engines and other on-board systems and facilities from them," Jin said.

According to the paper, Airbus and Boeing, as well as other major global aviation parts suppliers, General Electric, Honeywell and Bombardier have expressed some sort of support for the project.

The long-expected launch of the large passenger jet firm follows the announcement early last year to develop a 150-seat passenger aircraft, aimed at competing against planes made by Airbus and Boeing.

China has already started building a mid-range 70-90 seat aircraft called ARJ-21, although the jet has met with systems problems, derailing its maiden flight by six months.

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China unveils new jumbo jet company: report
Beijing (AFP) May 11, 2008
China unveiled its own jumbo jet maker in Shanghai on Sunday, state press reported, in a move that could eventually rival Airbus and Boeing.







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