China intends to make the manufacturing of large commercial airplanes a top priority beginning in 2010, The Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for Defense (COSTIND) announced Jan. 6. COSTIND, which is responsible China's defense technology, said, "The priority for the airline industry (during the period) will be on trunk liners, with research and production to begin at the appropriate time."
COSTIND also has a strong influence over civilian industries that contribute to the nation's defense.
China has long considered building a large 150-200 seat commercial aircraft, rather than continuing to rely on Boeing Airbus. Industry officials last year urged the central government to approve the building of such planes before the country's demand for them peaked over the next two decades. "If China does not roll out its own trunk-liner by 2020, then the country will not succeed in 2030 or 2040 so it is really a rush," Liu Daxiang, a senior official with the state-owned China Aviation Industry Corporation I, said last June.
With 120 million people traveling by air in 2004, China is now the third biggest aviation market in the world after the U.S. and Europe. The 150-200 seat aircraft fits China's economic and geographic criteria as such aircraft would be ideal to fly between each of the key economic powerhouses -- the Bohai region in the northeast, the Yangtze Delta surrounding Shanghai in the east and the Pearl River Delta, home to Guangzhou and Hong Kong -- which are more than 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) apart.