The commercial operation of the C919, China’s self-developed large passenger aircraft, has driven the development of the country’s civil airliner industrial chain, said experts.
“The C919 can promote significant progress in many basic disciplines, help make breakthroughs in key technologies in the fields of new materials, modern manufacturing, advanced power, electronic information, auto control and computer, and boost the development of many high-tech industries,” said Li Xiaojin, head of the research institute of aviation economics at the Civil Aviation University of China.
According to Li, China has made two unprecedented breakthroughs, including technology and marketing. On the one hand, the C919, composed of over four million parts that must be strictly proven safe and reliable, has combined China’s independent innovation and its increasing localization ability based on global procurement. “This is a great achievement,” he said.
On the other hand, compared with Boeing, Airbus, and other countries' aviation manufacturing enterprises, domestic civil aircraft manufacturers almost started from scratch in terms of market awareness, capability and experience, so it marks a new beginning, Li said.
The industrial chain of an aircraft is composed of airframe manufacturing, power plants, airborne systems, spare parts and raw materials. The airframe manufacturing of the C919, including nose, fuselage, wings and hatches, accounts for about one third of its total value, which mainly relies on subsidiaries of China’s Aviation Industry Corporation.
Its power plant systems are mainly provided by foreign enterprises and airborne system products with high profits are attracting a large number of high-tech enterprises. Private enterprises compete to manufacture parts and components such as forged castings, standard parts, and electronic components. These private enterprises have both won orders and made technological breakthroughs. As for raw materials such as aluminum alloy, composite materials, titanium alloy, and high-strength steel are manufactured by state-owned enterprises like Baosteel Group.
The research institute of aviation economics at the Civil Aviation University of China estimates that if the life cycle of the C919 is 10 years, it will contribute 1/86 of the country’s economic value added and 1/9.6 of the employment, said Li, citing that 300,000 people participated in the manufacturing of the C919’s outer shell.
Experts said based on the current input-output ratio of a large aircraft of 1 to 80, the C919 is expected to create a trillion-yuan (about 14.01 million U.S. dollars) of market scale while maintaining the current localization rate of C919.
The continuous improvement of localization rate of domestically-developed aircraft will drive the development of both its industrial chain and supply chain and inject new impetus into China aviation industry, said experts.