China Launches Large Airliner Program

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Chinese officials have confirmed that China wants to get into the large airliner (150-plus seats) business, undoubtedly because one of the biggest future markets for aircraft is expected to be in its own backyard. An editorial in the People’s Daily says China expects to need about 1,600 large airliners by 2020 and would like to keep at least part of the $150 billion or so they’re expected to cost, not to mention the worldwide boom in civil aviation that’s opening other new markets. But it’s not all about money. “China believes that the ability to produce a large airplane reflects the strength of a nation, and has much the same ability to inspire nationalist sentiment as the development of the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, satellites and space aircraft,” opined the newspaper. As for its main competitor in this venture, Boeing says bring it on. Mike Bair, head of Boeing’s 787 program, told Xinhua News Agency Boeing is ready to compete with anyone. "We always anticipate potential competitors," said Bair. "I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that a country as large as China might have ambitions like that." China recently committed to production of a 70- to 100-seat regional jet.