The host of the executive meeting of the State Council, Premier Wen Jiabao, approved a special project to develop large airplanes, and agreed to establish a joint-stock cooperation for this. He also urged all concerned parties to start this work as soon as possible.
China will now resume the task of independently developing large airplanes, another goal of independent innovation. In the 1980s, China suspended the Yunshi Project (also called the 708 Project) which was established in 1970, the first time China had undertaken to independently produce large airplanes.
Large airplanes are a strategically important, high-tech aircraft, and the development of such a plane is significant in politics, economics, national defense and technology. With regard to politics, China believes that the ability to produce a large airplane reflects the strength of a nation, and has much the same ability to inspire nationalist sentiment as the development of the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, satellites and space aircraft.
In terms of economics, there is a big market for large civil airplanes. By 2020, China is expected to need an additional 1600 large civilian aircraft, at a cost of between US$150 billion and US$180 billion. By 2050, faced with both further expanding its fleet as well as replacing many of its existing aircraft, China will require an additional 3000 airplanes. On top of that, it will require a number of smaller jets for regional use, bringing the total cost to between US$350 billion and US$400 billion. These are the domestic statistics; if the demand from the world market is included, the market is even bigger.
In terms of national defense, the successful development of a large airplane would help China to realize its ambition of producing large military aircraft on its own, and further strengthen its national defense capability.
Technically, a large airplane is at the top of the industrial chain, and plays a leading role in the chain of industrial technologies. It would effectively promote China's technological progress and industrial upgrade; strengthen China's national industries; and enhance China's position in the global division of industries. Consequently, the decision to develop a large plane is very important.
At present, only the US, the EU, and Russia have developed their own large airplanes, and only Boeing and Airbus are competitive internationally. It is evident that developing large airplanes is difficult and complex. Although many difficulties and challenges exist, after years of hard work, China's aviation industry believes it has the technology necessary to develop large airplanes. Engineers should adopt the mindset of those that developed the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, satellites and manned spacecraft �C seize opportunities, confront challenges, overcome difficulties, and eventually achieve success.
The development of large airplanes is a large and complex task. Vital to the success of the project is whether all forces can be mobilized and sector interests overcome. Also important is whether work can be done efficiently and investment well utilized.
By People's Daily Online