COMAC is the main organization that is facilitating the building of large passenger aircraft in China. The company is mandated with the overall planning and development of trunk liner and regional jet programs, as well as the industrialization of civil aircraft. It is building the new C919 jet, which will use aluminum-lithium alloys and composites in its airframe structures.
COMAC also recently signed a long-term collaboration agreement with Bombardier. Initially, the companies will collaborate on four projects that recognize the similarities between the C919 and Bombardier's CSeries family of commercial airliners. One of the projects is developing standards and specifications for the use of aluminum-lithium in aircraft.
Several different companies and organizations jointly own COMAC, including the Aluminum Corporation of China, also known as China Aluminum Corp. (CHINALCO or CHINCO). CHINALCO has reportedly announced the third generation of its 540mm aluminum-lithium alloy for use in large aircraft.
The company has spent several years in R&D working on aluminum alloys for China's aerospace industry. The new alloy represents a breakthrough for China, and for its aerospace industry, since the production of aluminum-lithium has long been dominated by suppliers in other countries, the company's senior managers said.
Interesting development and and another example of China's manufacturing and development muscle reaching into every important industry segment. Does this partnership spell more aircraft production to serve the Chinese commercial aircraft market or does it portend China playing a bigger role in providing aircraft for the global commercial aircraft industry at large, or both?
Good story, Ann. I agree with Beth, this is an interesting development. On the surface, it looks like a good move to involve China in U.S. industry. I would imagine Boeing will be very, very careful with its IP. This could be a good step toward maturity for China's airline industry.
Ann, it seems that like in other areas Chinese government wants an upper hand in avionic sector too. That could be the one reason for Chinese companies for a joint venture in R&D and major investments. anyway they have a major stake in Hardware and associated areas
Excellent point, TJ. While China can definitely bring a lot to the table and collaborative efforts are inherently good for industry, there are definite red flags that require close attention. Intellectual property in the aerospace sector certainly has longer legs than IP in the fast-paced world of consumer electronics so it's an issue that requires viligence as part of the partnership terms.
Beth, that's a really, good question that no one is answering. The partnership appears to be aimed at the first possibility: growing the commercial Chinese aircraft market. What Boeing will get out of this is not clear--it may or may not be a cheaper source of aircraft production. That would make a lot of sense--and take away more US jobs.
I agree with you TJ, China's dismal record on IP rights makes all this sound like it may be good for Boeing in the short term and not so good for the US in the long term, whether this becomes a new source of cheaper aircraft for Boeing or not.
Cheaper source of manufacturing, maybe, but what about quality issues. Given the track record regarding poor quality for simple things like children's toys and food products, I'm not so sure I'd want to get on an aircraft produced in a factory that isn't governed by the same viligent standards that the U.S. and other countries uphold.
Beth, I'm completely with you on this and have the same concerns. I've often heard it said that China can manufacture really good quality products or really low-quality products, depending on what they are asked to do and how much they are paid. That's true in general of contract manufacturing. However, for things like airplanes and baby's formula I think there's a lot of cause for concern with how strictly, and consistently, quality standards are enforced.
I have to admit that I'm also a little leery of sharing technology with a government and society that has such a horrible history of ignoring intellectual property and copyright laws. Both consumer and semiconductor sectors are flooded with pirated goods and I shudder to think that these same companies will be manufacturing aircraft and avionics with the blessing of Boeing. This is one of the few industries where the US still has a strong presence, and I hate to think that we would give away the keys to the kingdom for a little instant profit.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
A fun and informative tour you can attend at the upcoming Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis, MD&M Minneapolis, and other events there, is the Materials Innovation Tour on Wednesday afternoon. I'll be leading it.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies.
You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived.
So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.