Several recent developments show that China is becoming much more involved in the production of commercial aircraft, including new aluminum alloys for use in such large planes as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing recently signed a collaboration agreement with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) in several areas for enabling commercial aviation industry growth in China. The companies will collaborate with Chinese universities and research institutions to expand knowledge of sustainable aviation biofuels, aviation connectivity infrastructure, and other areas, to improve energy efficiency or reduce carbon emissions in commercial aviation. Each research project will be jointly selected and funded.
China is increasing manufacturing of large aircraft and of aluminum-lithium alloys for use in the airframe structures of large planes, such as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, shown here landing in Mexico City for the first time on March 7, 2012. (Source: Boeing)
Part of the agreement includes the creation of the Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center in Beijing. Funded by both companies, the center will support research projects to increase the fuel efficiency of commercial aircraft and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Our hope is that innovative emissions-reduction technologies developed through the Boeing-COMAC Center will advance aviation in China and around the world," said Marc Allen, president of Boeing China, in a press release.
China is considered to be one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets. The country's Civil Aviation Administration has forecast that passenger traffic in China in 2012 will exceed 300 million, and reach 1.5 billion in 2030. Boeing has estimated that Chinese airlines will need to buy 5,000 new airplanes by 2030 to meet this demand.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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