China’s commercial jet industry takes flight

Briefly: China’s first domestically produced passenger jet took to the skies on Sunday for its maiden voyage. Beijing has invested billions to develop a home-grown aircraft industry to reduce its dependence on Western technologies.

The occasion was celebrated in style, with special red boarding passes, a mid-air cake-cutting, and a water cannon salute upon the flight’s landing in Beijing.

But breaking into the commercial aircraft space won’t be easy. Boeing and Airbus dominate the commercial skies, with a combined market share of over 90% for single-aisle aircraft. So China has a steep climb ahead if it wants to source domestically all 8,000 of the new jets it’ll need over the next 20 years.

Intrigue’s take: Sunday’s flight was an important milestone, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the C919 jet wasn’t entirely Made in ChinaCore parts like the engine and electrical system were supplied by US, French and German firms. And others were allegedly built using IP theft and forced tech transfer.

The result is an aircraft that looks pretty similar to the Airbus A-320 and the Boeing 737. So yeah, Boeing and Airbus have one heck of a moat protecting their market share right now. But how many extinct boardrooms once thought the same thing?

Also worth noting:

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