Prospective Chinese business jet owners have an excellent choice of Western-made products here at the ABACE show in Shanghai, but might they one day be able to buy a business aircraft built in their own country? Reports have been brewing in recent months that at least one Western manufacturer is in talks with China’s Comac aerospace group with a view to some sort of joint aircraft development. But, as of press time, nothing had been confirmed.
United Eagle Airlines
With a firm launch customer in hand and fourth test aircraft ready to take flight, two years ago China’s ARJ21 program appeared to have found its stride just as the last Singapore Airshow approached in 2010.
The first A320 aircraft assembled outside Europe at the Airbus Final Assembly Line China (FALC) in Tianjin, China, completed its first flight on May 18, a little more than a month before scheduled first delivery to Dragon Aviation Leasing customer Sichuan Airlines. The milestone flight came amid aggressive moves to spark a recovery of China’s airline industry with direct government funding and loans.
The official statistics confirm what the aerospace industry has long anticipated: China’s air transport market is booming. The 2005 annual report of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is yet to be published but all the indications are that the growth targets set for last year in the 2004 report were met.