Air Transport World

China cautious following approach to aircraft manufacturing.

China following cautious approach to aircraft manufacturing

Many nations around the globe are developing their own civil aircraft incustries. The People's Republic of China is no exception. The nation's airline is quickly approaching the size of some of the established European carriers. The People's Republic, like the other nations with aircraft industries, is attracted to the export potential of such endeavors, the desire for at least some self-sufficiency, and the savings from not having to import transports for its own needs.

The People's Republic, as it has done in so many areas, is taking some unique roads to the development of a civil aircraft manufacturing industry. During most of its post-1949 history it has relied chiefly on the Soviet Union for its civil transport needs. For many years its airline, CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) flew Soviet equipment almost exclusively, the only exception being six Vickers Viscounts that we know about. In the late 1960s/early 1970s CAAC began going to the West for equipment, chiefly Hawker Siddeley Tridents and Boeing 707s. Recently CAAC has been buying small lots of nearly every type of civil transport made in the West.

China's transport manufacturing efforts have followed a similar pattern. It has copied versions of some of the Soviet transports that it has used, the Antonov An-2 single-engine utility biplane, manufactured in Harbin as the Y5, and more recently the Antonov An-24 twin turboprop 50-seat transport (similar to a Fokker F27) which is being built in Xian as the Y7. The West has not been overlooked in these programs either. People in the U.S. industry were startled to discover one day that the Chinese had produced a copy of the Boeing 707 bought by CAAC, the copy being built with Pratt & Whitney JT3Ds just like the original, but in Shanghai not Seattle. The Chinese call them Y10s.

For some time CAAC was the airline for the People's Republic. Recently there have been reorganizations and at least a partial breakup of CAAC into regional organizations. Similarly, China's aircraft manufacturing industry is now governed by several organizations and its facilities are dispersed throughout the nation.

China's buying and selling was originally handled through Machimpex (China Machinery Import/Export Corporation) but as this body handled a wide range of activity (including shipping and mining activities), special bodies for aviation were created in the late 1970s. …

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