The development of China’s aviation industry

Chinese contributions to global aviation history include the inventions of the first flying object, the kite, and, years later, the rocket. Despite these technological achievements, China’s airline industry has fallen behind its international competitors.

Air travel volumes are expected to peak within twenty years, so China is looking to increase its capacity by building its own large aircraft. At the start of May 2017, the first large Chinese-made passenger jet C919 undertook its maiden flight marking a key milestone for the country.

With China on the verge of a new era in its civilian airline history, we have taken a look at the development of China’s aviation history and its major fliers.

The beginnings of civil aviation

Before 1950, there were only three airlines operating in the Republic of China (ROC): Civil Air Transport and ROC joint ventures with Pan American World Airways and Lufthansa. When the People’s Republic was founded in 1949, there were only 36 airports in operation and most could not handle large aircraft.

Before the end of the 1970s and Deng Xiaoping’s policy of modernisation in 1980, air travel in China was relatively rare. The country had only one airline, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), and airports and airspace were controlled by the military…

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