Roll-out of China’s home-grown passenger jet still up in the air as US tech restrictions expected to persist under Joe Biden

Roll-out of China’s home-grown passenger jet still up in the air as US tech restrictions expected to persist under Joe Biden

  • Concerns are growing over China’s access to key American-made components for the C919 passenger jet, due to a dependency on US exports
  • China’s answer to the Boeing-Airbus duopoly on passenger jets still has hurdles to overcome to meet its planned roll-out next year, and not all analysts think it will arrive on time

The administration of US president-elect Joe Biden is likely to continue the Trump administration’s effort to contain China technologically, despite the easing of some concerns about the acquisition of key American components needed for its home-grown C919 passenger jet, according to analyst predictions.

When the United States began tightening controls on technology exports to China, industry insiders and pundits warned of possible delays in the roll-out of the Comac C919 – an integral part of Beijing’s ambitions to break the current Boeing-Airbus duopoly on the manufacturing of large passenger jets.

The C919 relies on imports of a number of crucial parts, from its engines to its flight-control systems, so access to US suppliers such as General Electric (GE), Honeywell International and Rockwell Collins is vital for future deliveries of the new model.

A source close to the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), the state-owned company building the plane, told the South China Morning Post on condition of anonymity that the swirling storm between Beijing and Washington has not translated into any real trouble for the C919, at least so far, and that the first delivery of the Chinese airliner is still scheduled for next year.