Flight Global - Must Read: China Airborne by James Fallows
A lot of digital ink has been spilled on A.net discussing the threat of the C919 to both A and B and now here is a book that provides good insight into aviation in China by James Fallows. It really is required reading for anyone interested in the future of aviation in China... and eventually globally.
Fallows, who wrote Free Flight, is a long time instrument-rated pilot who lived in China for several years (and was co-pilot on an eye-popping Cirrus flight to the Zhuhai Air Show - the excerpt can be read here ). The stats about the aviation growth in China are really quite staggering.
Extract from Flight Global:
Depending on who you talk to, China is either the graveyard or the future for major airframers like Boeing and Airbus. It will also, supposedly, be the world's greatest market for both general and business aviation, with millions of Chinese taking to the skies for pleasure and business.
In China Airborne, journalist and avowed aviation enthusiast James Fallows tries to make sense of how commercial and general aviation have evolved in China, the current state of China's aerospace sector, and what the future may hold.
I smiled to come across comments from eponymous aerospace sector pundit Richard Aboulafia, who produced perhaps the most memorable quotation from the book:
"We know that this plane, the ARJ21, is completely useless. It amounts to a random collection of imported technologies and design features flying together in loose formation."
Synopsis from Amazon:
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.
Here are some recent video & news links to China Airborne:
Video on MSNBC
Will China Rule the Skies?
Video at Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations
Video with Charlie Rose
WSJ:Eight Questions: James Fallows, ‘China Airborne’