As China’s global leadership is on the rise with technological breakthroughs, the fresh milestone of ascendency has taken the world aviation market by storm.
On May 28, the successful inaugural commercial flight of the home-grown C919 passenger aircraft marked a new beginning for China’s civil aviation commercial operation of domestic air buses.
While the world has been influenced by the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing for decades, the C919 has taken the first step to challenge the existing situation. The strenuous devotion that led to the development of the C919 aircraft has demonstrated China’s unwavering commitment to achieving technological superiority in aircraft manufacturing. Over the past half-century, Beijing has invested a significant amount of time and energy in the homegrown production of large passenger aircraft.
China’s technical capabilities have progressively improved as a result of the country’s policy of placing a high priority on research and development in critical sectors such as the production of new materials, electronic information, machinery manufacturing, automation, and high-end equipment.
The International Air Transport Association has stated that China will overtake the US to become the world’s largest aviation market by 2024. The report from the Montreal-based trade association also predicts that China will almost double its number of air trips, with nearly 930 million trips expected by 2025. In 2015, less than 500 million trips were made. This will make China the world’s fastest-growing market during that period.
According to China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), the country plans to open more than 30 new civil airports, and the civil aviation capacity will increase by 43 percent to 2 billion passenger trips.
The successful first flight of the C919 passenger plane and the growth of China’s aviation industry serve as significant contributors to the goals outlined in the Made in China 2025 policy. The C919’s development showcases China’s commitment to innovation and the use of advanced technology in manufacturing. Moreover, the C919’s success contributes to the globalization of Chinese brands, a key objective of the Made in China 2025 policy. As the C919 gains recognition and acceptance in the global market, it elevates the reputation of Chinese-made aircraft.
China’s commitment to enhancing its aviation infrastructure is evident in the rising number of airports. As of last year, the Chinese mainland boasted 254 commercial airports, marking a growth of six airports from the previous year. Additionally, the number of general airports increased by 29 to reach a total of 399. This expansion not only facilitates domestic connectivity but also strengthens China’s position as a global aviation hub.
The substantial growth of China’s aviation industry is further underscored by the increase in fleet size and the operation of numerous air routes. By the end of last year, China had a remarkable fleet of 4,165 aircraft, representing an addition of 111 aircraft compared to the previous year. The country operated a total of 4,670 scheduled air routes, encompassing 4,334 domestic routes and 336 international routes. This extensive air route network allows for efficient transportation both within China and to destinations around the world.
China’s aviation industry is not only expanding domestically but also establishing fruitful collaborations globally. By the end of 2022, China had established bilateral airworthiness relations with 40 countries and regions, with a total of 191 bilateral airworthiness documents in effect. This signifies the mutual recognition of each other’s aviation safety standards, fostering international cooperation and facilitating smoother international air travel. Additionally, China has signed 129 bilateral air transport agreements, which promote the growth of air connectivity and support the expansion of the Chinese aviation industry on a global scale. The achievements and developments within China’s aviation industry point towards a future filled with promise and potential. With a strong focus on infrastructure development, fleet expansion, and skilled workforce augmentation, the country is well-positioned to become a global leader in aviation.