planemaker
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Must Read: China Airborne By James Fallows

Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:26 pm


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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:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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’

Time
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. - A. Einstein
 
cedarjet
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RE: Must Read: China Airborne By James Fallows

Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:54 pm

I bought this last week at the truly wonderful City Lights bookshop in San Francisco. I am disappointed that there is virtually nothing more than a single passing mention of the Shanghai Y-10, the 707 clone that was built by China and first flew in 1980. This is widely thought to have been an unsuccessful attempt to build a commercial transport but in fact it was purely built as an experimental aircraft to acquire some basic skills and understanding of how big airliners work. A fascinating undertaking, the only time such a thing has been done. I would love to know more about the Y-10 project and I am disappointed this book doesn't add a single word to foreign knowledge of the project.

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Other than that, I'm looking forward to reading it, looks good.

http://www.citylights.com
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
skedguy
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RE: Must Read: China Airborne By James Fallows

Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:19 pm

Quoting cedarjet (Reply 1):
I bought this last week at the truly wonderful City Lights bookshop in San Francisco. I am disappointed that there is virtually nothing more than a single passing mention of the Shanghai Y-10, the 707 clone that was built by China and first flew in 1980. This is widely thought to have been an unsuccessful attempt to build a commercial transport but in fact it was purely built as an experimental aircraft to acquire some basic skills and understanding of how big airliners work. A fascinating undertaking, the only time such a thing has been done. I would love to know more about the Y-10 project and I am disappointed this book doesn't add a single word to foreign knowledge of the project.

I bought and read the book on iTunes a few weeks ago, and generally enjoyed it. Although the theme of the book was the transformation of airlines and airports in China, I actually thought the topic was mostly used as a vehicle to discuss an overall perspective on China's economic and political transformation. As long as you read the book with an eye towards that versus a meaty discourse on the geeky airline/airport stuff we all love, you'll enjoy the book.
 
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RE: Must Read: China Airborne By James Fallows

Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:20 pm

Quoting planemaker (Thread starter):
"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."

Well, we used to call the C-124, "10,000 bolts, flying in loose formation".  
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frmrCapCadet
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RE: Must Read: China Airborne By James Fallows

Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:57 pm

I have always enjoyed Fallow's articles on technology and aviation. But generally 5 years later I was left with the impression I had been misinformed. He does not have a great batting average. But an excellent reporter and editor. And always a good read. Who knows? Maybe he is right this time. I will look for the article.
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