Shanghai’s Aviation Industry

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    Shanghai has long been the country’s most important industrial bases, and possesses advantages for developing the aviation industry.

    In 1927, in light of the fact that aircraft engines and parts were all to be shipped into the country through the Shanghai Port, the Aviation Department of the Military Affairs Commission of the Nanjing National Government established an aircraft maintenance and repair plant in Shanghai’s Hongqiao area.

    The following year it was renamed Shanghai Aviation Factory. In 1929, the factory successfully produced a dual-seat biplane trainer, Chenggong No.1, and later several Avro 504K trainers.

    In 1931, the Aircraft Manufacturing Bureau of the Naval Department moved from Mawei Dockyard in Fujian to Shanghai and was incorporated into Kingnan Shipyard.

    It successfully trial-manufactured two amphibious training and reconnaissance aircraft – Jianghe and Jiangfeng, Ninghai No1. carrier-based seaplane, and over ten Fleet Model trainers.

    However, due to a shortage of funds, the outmoded aircraft it produced where not used in air force or aviation schools, and the factory could barely remain in business.

    When Shanghai Aviation Factory was bombed by the Japanese in the January 28th Incident (1932), and the Aircraft Manufacturing Bureau of the Naval Department was relocated to Yichang in Hubei Provice in the wake of the incident of July 7 (1937), the manufacture of aircraft in Shanghai came to a standstill. At the end of the Anti-Japanese War, the Aircraft Navigation Units run by China Airways and Central Air Transport Corporation, located at Longhua Airport, were the only institutions left to assume the maintenance of US-made civil aircraft.

    For these reasons, in the years immediately following the founding of the PRC, the construction of an aviation industry topped the new government’s agenda.

    In December 1950, Premier Zhou Enlai presided over discussions for the construction of New China’s aviation industry, specifying that China needed to recover its former production capabilities, and then start manufacturing its own designs.

    In 1951, an aircraft maintenance and repair factory was established by the Civil Aviation Bureau of CPC Central Military Commission. Formed from the maintenance corps of Longhua Airport, it was responsible for repairing and converting aircraft for the PLA’s AIR Force and its international assistance service.

    The factory repaired and converted over 3,4000 aircraft of over 40 models, and developed the Feilong No.1 hydroplane.

    After 1954, other research and production institutions were set up in Shanghai for manufacturing aviation electrical equipment, test and control equipment, mechanical appliances and aeronautical radio electronic products.

    In August 1970, Shanghai was assigned the 708 project, i.e the task of trial-producing the Yun-10 passenger aircraft, the first large passenger jet airliner designed and manufactured in China.

    In July 1976, the project was competed. Shanghai’s aviation industry thus embrued on a path of developing and manufacturing large civil aircraft as its key task.

    On September 26, 1980, after the first test flights in Shanghai, the Yun-10 plane flew to Harbin, Urumqi, Guangzhou and Kunming, and transported cargo to Lhasa in Tibet, setting a precedent for domestic civil aircraft flying over the spine of the world.

    By February 1985, the Yun-10 passenger aircraft had performed a total of 131 test take-offs and landings over 164 flight hours. These successful flights filled a gap in China’s aviation industry.

    With China’s reform and opening in 1978, Shanghai attempted to cooperate with overseas companies in the manufacture of civil aircraft. After 1985, Shanghai Aviation Equipment Corp. sought to collaborate with McDonnell Douglas Corp. in the joint production of MD-83 aircraft.

    By 1990, the partnership had successfully completed the production of 1,799 sets of 8 components for the Main Landing Gear (MLG) Doors and the noise gear doors for the MD-82 aircraft. After December 1986, the two Chinese corporations began the tasks of overall design and final assembly of domestic airliners, and were engaged in feasibility studies, techno-economic verification, feasibility demonstrations of the project, and design by manufacturing preparations.

    By 1990, Shanghai’a aviation industry employed over 15,000 people, including over 3,7000 being engineers and technicians. In the same year, the industry’s gross industrial output value reached 130 million yuan and the profit and tax totaled 43 million yuan. Nevertheless, after the 1990’s the aviation industry in Shanghai was faced with severe problems stemming from inadequacy in production methods and shortages in capital investment. To accelerate institutional reforms within the industry, Shanghai Aviation Industrial (Group) Co., LTD. was founded in August 1992, and Shanghai Aviation Electronics Corp. in October 1992, The 35th MD-82 aircraft was delivered in October 1994, which meant a successful completion of the ten-year Sino-US cooperation project in November 1994, a modification agreement was signed regarding the Sino-US co-production of 20 new MD-90 airliners, with Shanghai Aviation Industrial (Group) Co., Ltd responsible for the final assembly, test flights and delivery of the aircraft, as well las the production of the muffle fuselages and tail planes.

    In May 2008, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. Was register and established in Shanghai, accelerating the pace of industrialisation of the ARJ21 aircraft and triggering the development of the C919 large passenger airliner.

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