Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 23, 2014

Is China’s State-Owned Aircraft Manufacturing Company A Threat to Boeing?

You may wear Chinese-made shirts and not even notice, so will you someday be flying aboard a Chinese-made passenger plane?

The potential threat of China’s commercial aviation sector to American manufacturing – and especially to Boeing — was one focus Thursday of a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security.

Displaying a photo of a C919 made by China’s state-owned aircraft company, COMAC, Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R- Ill., told the subcommittee, “This is a competitor to the [Boeing] 737…. We want to make sure that just as this [C919] aircraft hits the market as we expect in 2018, that we have an Export-Import Bank to finance sales of U.S. aircraft overseas.”

The charter for the Export-Import Bank expires next month and it faces opposition from fiscal conservatives, especially among House Republicans.

Kirk added that when a passenger boards a flight today on United Airlines or American Airlines, “you’re overwhelmingly likely to fly a USA aircraft. We want to make sure that you’re not flying China in future days.”

Subcommittee chair Sen. Maria Cantwell, D- Wash., said “because of the massive resources required to develop, produce, and market commercial airplanes, when we talk about aviation, we are often not talking about companies, as far as competition, but sometimes talking about actual countries.”

China and Russia are working “to develop a wide-body plane intended to compete on a global scale,” she said.

The ranking Republican on the subcommittee Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said “if their milk is an indication, I don’t want to fly in a Chinese plane”—a reference to Chinese scandals over adulterated milk and infant formula.

Offering a more guarded view of potential competition from China was economist Keith Crane, director of the Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program at the RAND Corporation.

Crane said in his testimony that “by the time COMAC hits full production, the C919 will be technologically outdated compared to Airbus’s and Boeing’s new models, the A320neo and 737 Max, respectively.”

Most aviation experts, he said, believe that COMAC “will not truly be able to break into the international commercial aircraft market until it manufactures its next aircraft, the C929, following the C919 and quite possibly, not even then.”

To develop the C929, COMAC will Chinese government subsidies for “a relatively long period of time.”

But Crane added that one market where China is likely to be more successful is in smaller planes for general aviation.

He noted that a Chinese state-owned enterprise has acquired Cirrus, a U.S. manufacturer, and has signed a joint venture agreement with Cessna to assemble the Cessna Citation model in China.

  • 3jbing

    China keeps rising with the help of USA. Americans continue to sell technologies and large manufacturing that someday will compete against the USA. The containment strategy should start NOW not only militarily but in all aspects. The United States has been habitually slow in counter reactions and often struggles to correct things overseas. Indeed nations rise and fall; today who is falling and who is rising?? Has America reached the top of the hill? Say ain’t so Uncle Sam!

  • Porwal Ranjana

    can we rely on china things so far what we see is just one time use things that have no chances of repair in case ! no warranty GOd save the Earth!

    • nrik

      If you don’t want to use Chinese product nobody in this world can force you to.

  • tocharian

    You have to ask Su Bin, the Chinese-Canadian spy who was caught recently.

  • O_Pinion

    Maybe Jeffrey immelt should have been called as a witness at this subcommittee to explain why he sold GE Avionics into a joint venture with Avionics Industry Corporation of China. With one stroke of a pen he did more to harm the competitive advantage of the US aviation industry than anyone in the past 100 years.

    • abbaj

      investigate his immelt guy. china is good in copying technology. soon enough they would not need GE anymore as copycat china has reversed engineered everything. i for one would not take a plane made by this comac company of china. boeing and airbus only or nothing.

  • Patikotiko

    I still prefer Boeing.

    • Peter_Lyon

      For no good reason other than xenophobia.

  • Arun

    “With
    regard to Xi’s visit to India, during BRICS summit, President Xi had a
    good meeting with Prime Minister Modi,” he said, adding that the two
    leaders agreed that Xi should visit India in the “neat” future.

    I think its not “neat future” near future… if it mistake pls correct it in the article………

  • Harry DeMarcus

    I wont fly on a china made plane..it’s lacking one or two bolts..it’s surely screwed to break apart…

  • buknoy2489

    Someday USA will kneel to China if this problem will not be solve, China will take advantage militarily economy technology and other aspect, China is a communist country a traitor leader. Now they are taking advantage in all aspect slow but sure

  • Great Indian

    China can manufacture Passenger Aircraft, still Boeing is more reliable. Aircraft safety is the main concern. Hope Boeing will take this as a Stepping Stone to Success. May be the Chinese competition will make Boeing still more Stronger.

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