China's Homegrown Airliner Makes International Debut

    China's Homegrown Airliner Makes International Debut
    Photo: Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • The C919, China's first domestically produced passenger jet, made its maiden flight outside the PRC on Sunday, when it conducted a flyby at the Singapore Airshow.

    • Chinese regulators have approved the twin-engine narrow-body aircraft that the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China built, and it can reportedly carry 158 to 192 passengers.


    The Spin

    Pro-China narrative

    The C919, a prominent symbol of Beijing's broader "Made in China" strategy, is the PRC's answer to Western-made Airbus and Boeing. It will not only break the dominant planemakers' hold on the international passenger market and make COMAC the third competitor in the global aviation sector but also help advance the PRC's footprint worldwide, reduce its reliance on foreign technology, challenge the US dominance of China's market, and strengthen Beijing's position as an aviation hub.

    Anti-China narrative

    The fact that the aircraft is only authorized to fly in the PRC and relies on international supply chains makes it far-fetched to suggest that Beijing's "homegrown" C919 could challenge Airbus and Boeing. Moreover, besides cost and production issues, rising tensions between Beijing and Washington could make it difficult for COMAC to get certification from the US and European regulators and penetrate international markets. With the capacity to fly between five and six hours, the C919 is, at best, perfect for regional travel.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 16% chance that there will be a commercial service to travel between London and New York City in under three hours before 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.



    Establishment split

    CRITICAL

    PRO

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