Is China's homegrown passenger jet mere assembly of foreign parts?

Chen Yingchun, vice chief designer of the C919, said China did not pay any money to foreign companies for its design.

PTI| Updated: Nov 04, 2015, 19:14 PM IST
Is China's homegrown passenger jet mere assembly of foreign parts?

Beijing: Refuting allegations that China's first homegrown passenger plane unveiled two days ago was a mere assembly of foreign components, China Wednesday said the jet was developed using a domestic design protected by intellectual property rights.

Chen Yingchun, vice chief designer of the C919, said China did not pay any money to foreign companies for its design and that the design, aerodynamic configuration and system integration were all completed and tested by the manufacturer in China, state-run People's Daily reported.

Rolling off the final assembly line in Shanghai, the new aircraft began receiving attention and criticism, especially after a news site pointed out that only four out of 18 main components of the C919 plane are provided by domestic manufacturers, official media reported.

Liu Jimei, a Beijing-based aviation expert, told another official daily Global Times that aircraft manufacturing is the integration of both components and systems.

"Some core technologies of the C919 are independently developed, such as its full-time full-authority fly-by-wire control system and advanced active control technology," Liu said.

The C919's engine was developed by foreign companies, but that does not mean that the airliner was assembled from foreign components, Wang Guangqiu, a vice president of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC), the manufacturer of C919, told The Beijing News.

China, which is developing its own fighter aircraft, is yet to begin manufacturing engines of its own and depended mostly on Russian engines for the new fleet.

There is no need to build an aircraft behind closed doors, it is better to cooperate with other manufacturers, Luo Wenzhong, a regional general manager at Honeywell International.

The New Jersey-based Honeywell supplies the C919 with auxiliary power units, flight controls, wheels and brakes, as well as its navigation system, the Global Times quoted reports as saying.

The C919 - a twin-engine, narrow-body aircraft seating up to 174 people - is similar in size to the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 series of jets, long the workhorses for airlines around the world.

With a flying range of up to 5,555 kilometres, it is designed to compete head-to-head with its Airbus and Boeing rivals, and said to easily cover popular business and leisure routes from China such as Shanghai to Singapore and Beijing to Bangkok.