China’s Airliner Fleet Set To More Than Triple by 2030

 - September 26, 2011, 7:27 AM
No one doubts that China’s airliner fleet is set to increase rapidly in the next two decades. The question posed, even by Chinese manufacturers themselves, is how many of these aircraft will be built in China. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

China’s airliner fleet is set to grow more than three-fold over the next two decades, rising from 1,506 in 2010 to 5,118 in 2030, according to the latest “China Market Outlook for Civil Aircraft 2011-2030” published during last week’s Aviation Expo show in Beijing by the Aviation Industries of China (Avic). 

Taking into account aircraft that will be retired over this period, the group foresees 4,164 deliveries of aircraft with more than 100 seats, and a further 954 regional airliners with fewer than 100 seats. The largest group of anticipated deliveries is in the single-aisle segment between 121 and 180 seats–exactly the portion of the market for which the rival new narrowbody programs from Airbus and Boeing are vying. By contrast, the forecast total includes just 98 aircraft with more than 400 seats. The 181- to 249-seat segment accounts for 789 deliveries, followed by 406 of aircraft with 250 to 399 seats. The regional airline fleet in China is set to grow with 517 aircraft in the 61- to 100-seat class and 437 models with 30 to 60 seats.

Liao Quanwang, Avic development and research vice president, told AIN that the development of China’s government-subsidized, high-speed rail network could reduce these forecast deliveries somewhat, but he estimated that this would be by no more than 10 percent. Liao also acknowledged that Chinese airframers face a challenge in convincing the country’s airlines to switch from Airbus and Boeing airliners to locally made models now under development, such as Avic’s ARJ21 and Comac’s C919.

“Local manufacturers still have to learn a lot from Airbus and Boeing in marketing policy and improving their improve brands so that they get better market appeal,” said Liao. He also predicted that China’s aerospace industries will go on to develop widebody airliners.

The Avic stand at Aviation Expo featured a model of a new Chinese turbofan engine, which appeared to be intended as an alternative powerplant for Comac’s C919 jet, for which Safran’s Leap-X1C already has been selected. But no further details on this development were available from the government-backed company.

Safran displayed a full-scale mock-up of Leap-X engine, albeit the version with the 74-inch diameter fan, rather than the larger 78-inch fan that both Comac and Airbus (for its new A320neo) have said that they want.