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China’s C919 potential to take on Boeing and Airbus

China C919, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Boeing and Airbus

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (also known as COMAC) recently unveiled their first large-sized airplane with huge fanfare in Shanghai. The aircraft, called C919, can accommodate up to 168 passengers. The plane is intended to compete with other single-aisle aircraft like the Airbus A320 and Boeing's 737 family. So far, COMAC's new innovation has secured 517 orders from 21 customers that comprise mostly Chinese carriers. The aircraft has already received international recognition at this year's Dubai Airshow, where chief executives of Middle Eastern air carriers hailed the plane as being the much needed competition in a market dominated by Boeing and Airbus.

中国商飞最近在上海大张旗鼓推出了首架大型飞机。这种C919型飞机最多可容纳168人,旨在与空客公司A320型飞机和波音公司737系列飞机等其他窄体飞机竞争。到目前为止,中国商飞的创新产品已经从21家主要来自中国的航空公司收获了517份订单,并在今年的迪拜航展获得了国际认可。来自中东航空公司的众位总裁称赞C919型飞机为波音公司和空客公司主导的市场上带来了亟需的竞争。

The timing for the introduction of the C919 couldn't have been any better. Airbus estimates that over the next two decades, the narrow-body, single aisle type aircraft are going to account for almost 70% of all new deliveries.  Boeing estimates that the global demand for such aircraft is going to total about 26,730 aircrafts within the same time period. These statistics are supported by the fact that there has been a significant boom in regional air travel, aided by the heavy influx of low cost carriers. According to Ascend Flightglobal, the global market for regional jets is predicted to reach 4,360 by 2034. Domestically also, the low-cost carrier market in China has seen significant growths in recent years. Boeing estimates that the Chinese market will require about 7,200 single-aisle planes to meet the growing demand in the coming years.

C919面世的时机再好不过。空客公司预计,未来20年窄体单通道飞机将占所有新面世飞机的近70%。波音公司预计,同期内该类型飞机的全球需求将达到26730架。支持这些数据的是地区性空中旅行显著增长的事实,大量廉航公司涌入更为这一情况推波助澜。咨询机构环球飞行升空公司认为,地区性飞机的需求预计将在2034年达到4360架。在中国国内,廉航市场近年来也有大幅增长。波音公司估计,中国市场近年来将需要约7200架窄体飞机满足不断增长的需求。

So does the C919 have what it takes to pose a real threat to the current duopoly? Maybe. First off, the plane is estimated to be a lot cheaper than its competitors. The price for the aircraft has not yet been revealed, however, a report published by China National Radio in June estimates the plane will cost about $50 million. This price is significantly lesser than prices of Boeing's 737 series of planes and the Airbus A320. In terms of technology, the COMAC C919 is fitted with western equipment that is comparable to the type of technology found in its competitors. This turned out to be quite a selling point at the Dubai Airshow, where chief executives of major middle eastern airlines said they would definitely consider buying the C919 considering the plane maintains industry standards. However, some analysts remain skeptical as to whether COMAC will be able to compete efficiently with already established names like Boeing, Airbus and Embraer citing reasons like "lack of industrial experience or COMAC's unrealistic production capabilities." 

那么,中国商飞的C919型飞机是否有实力对当前的双头垄断构成真正的威胁呢?是有可能的。首先,这种飞机据估计比其竞争对手便宜得多。该飞机的价格目前还没有公布,不过中央人民广播电台6月份的一份报道估计C919型飞机售价约5000万美元。这个价格比波音公司的737系列飞机和空客公司的A320型飞机都便宜得多。技术方面而言,中国商飞的C919飞机所配备的西方设备足以与其竞争对手媲美。在迪拜航展上,这被证明是一个极大的卖点。几大中东航空公司的总裁表示,鉴于C919飞机保持的工业标准,他们一定会考虑购买这型飞机。然而,一些分析人士仍以诸如"缺少工业经验、产能不现实"等理由对中国商飞公司能否与波音、空客和巴西航空工业公司等老牌厂商有效竞争存疑。

COMAC is already considering creating a wide-body aircraft, the C929, in partnership with Russia's United Aircraft Corporation. There is speculation that the Chinese airline manufacturer is attempting to create a new aero-engine entity to develop jet engines needed to power larger jets. This aircraft is likely to compete with Boeing's 747 series of jets and the Airbus A380.

中国商飞公司正在计划与俄罗斯联合飞机制造公司合作创制一种宽体飞机C929。有猜测称这一中国飞机制造商正在努力研制大型飞机所需的新型航空发动机。这类飞机可能与波音公司747系列飞机和空客公司的A380形成竞争。

The new entrant may not be experienced enough to take on Boeing and Airbus head-on, but is a much needed substitute to threaten the duopoly's pull in the industry. With time, it seems plausible that COMAC will become a trusted name in the market.

初出茅庐的C919飞机也许没有足够的经验迎头打败波音和空客,但它是挑战行业内双头垄断亟需的替代品。假以时日,人们似乎有理由认为中国商飞公司会成为市场信誉品牌。

2016-06-22

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