China Airborne

China Airborne

Book - 2012
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More than two-thirds of the new airports under construction today are being built in China. Chinese airlines expect to triple their fleet size over the next decade and will account for the fastest-growing market for Boeing and Airbus. But the Chinese are determined to be more than customers. In 2011, China announced its Twelfth Five-Year Plan, which included the commitment to spend a quarter of a trillion dollars to jump-start its aerospace industry. Its goal is to produce the Boeings and Airbuses of the future. Toward that end, it acquired two American companies: Cirrus Aviation, maker of the world's most popular small propeller plane, and Teledyne Continental, which produces the engines for Cirrus and other small aircraft.
In China Airborne, James Fallows documents, for the first time, the extraordinary scale of this project and explains why it is a crucial test case for China's hopes for modernization and innovation in other industries. He makes clear how it stands to catalyze the nation's hyper-growth and hyper- urbanization, revolutionizing China in ways analogous to the building of America's transcontinental railroad in the nineteenth century. Fallows chronicles life in the city of Xi'an, home to more than 250,000 aerospace engineers and assembly workers, and introduces us to some of the hucksters, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and dreamers who seek to benefit from China's pursuit of aerospace supremacy. He concludes by examining what this latest demonstration of Chinese ambition means for the United States and the rest of the world--and the right ways to understand it.

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2012.
ISBN: 9780375422119
Characteristics: xiii, 268 p. ;,22 cm.


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Apr 24, 2017

China has made tremendous progress toward upgrading its air transit system in the past twenty years. And since the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2006 to 2010) greatly extended the reach into China's interior. However, Fallows states, China's goal of creating the next Boeing or Airbus is considerably more complex than assembling iPads or even building cars. Plus China has many obstacles that stand in its way to becoming a aviation and aerospace powerhouse.

China is building more new airports than the rest of the world combined yet the air traffic system is greatly limited because commercial aviation has to stay in narrow routes. The majority of Chinese airspace is restricted to military use. Plus flight plans have to be filed and approved days in advance of flying. Private plane ownership is gaining popularity but much of it is ostentation. The only airspace that is pretty much unrestricted airspace is below 1,000 feet and a lot of China's elevation is higher than that, especially in the hinterland where the demand is highest.

However, Chinese companies are buying or stealing Western technology and future Five Year Plans will place additional emphasis on aerospace development.

Feb 08, 2013

Fallows, one of the great generalists of modern journalism, has a good feel for both China and aviation. A nice break from his NPR week-in-review material that I normally associate with his work.

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