Though the country's Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense revealed a proposal to launch a large aircraft project in 2006, all comments and steps forward have been circumspect. Because of its complexity and visibility, production of large aircraft through military and civilian cooperation would represent "the height of national competitiveness," according to Huang Qiang, a spokesperson for National Defense.
Since the work of preparation has been proceeding well, notes Liu Daxiang, deputy head of the Department of Science and Technology Development, "We are now fairly well conditioned for making large aircraft with the sound support from growing national economic strength, technological development and experience in manufacturing."
China has had success with production of a regional jet, its ARJ-21, which was launched in 2005. Liu claims that development of the plane has helped Chinese experts and technicians gain necessary experience in technology, management and marketing that will lead to large aircraft development. The ARJ-21 is completing test flights and is anticipated to become available in 2008 or 2009.
Large aircraft are generally considered as freighters weighing 100 tons or passenger planes with more than 150 seats in China, more than 300 seats in international commerce.
China anticipates becoming the second largest aviation market, after the United States, by 2030. As do Airbus and Boeing, some aircraft parts--including key engine components--may be outsourced to other countries, although Liu stresses that China will remain the sole intellectual property right owner. Liu predicts that Chinese requirements for new airliners will reach 1,600 by 2020 with an estimated value of $150 billion.