When we talk about outsourcing problems we’re generally referring to U.S. companies having problems with product outsourced to China. When we talk more specifically about aircraft companies that are experiencing outsourcing problems, we are generally referring to the likes of Boeing’s 787 nightmare, the Airbus A380, or the duel between Boeing and Northrop/Airbus for the U.S. Air Force tanker deal.
Not this time. Now we have the story of a Chinese aircraft manufacturer having problems with components outsourced to the United States. Go figure. Thanks to regular reader Peter for finding and helping translate this article from the Danish newspaper, The Engineer.
China’s first commercial jet is delayed for at least six months. China has been hit by delays at US subcontractors, and the first test flight with a regional passenger jet has been delayed until autumn.
Last year we told you about China’s effort to develop its own passenger jet, and our point was that Boeing’s outsourcing efforts were at least partly responsible for transferring the required knowledge… thereby creating a future competitor. And so it has come to pass, although in reality it will still be a while before AVIC earns the reliability record required to be globally competitive.
The jet bears the official name ARJ21-700. ARJ is an abbreviation for Advanced Regional Jet and
-700 means that in the standard outfit it can hold about 70 passenger, although the amount can vary between 70 and 98 depending on the configuration. ARJ-700 is China’s first attempt of producing a commercial jet. It is going to pave the way for design and manufacturing of larger aircraft. At this point ACAC has received 171 orders for the aircraft, but more are under way.
Until this friday the official plan from the manufacturer, ACAC (AVICI Commercial Aircraft Co., Ltd.), was that the first test flight would take place before the end of march. Now the premiere is delayed, for now until autumn.
And the delay is due to…
The Chinese have been hit by the exact same problems as the heavyweights in the business, American Boeing and European Airbus: The subcontractors have trouble delivering as promised.
While the jet is produced in China, many foreign – primarily American – subcontractors deliver control systems. According to ACAC it is these control systems in particular, being supplied by Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and United Technologies, that have yet to be delivered for testing. This is because the Chinese documentation is missing, so says the ACAC spokesman Mr. Lou.
How’s that for a twist of fate? Amazing what happens when you wrap long supply chains around a smaller and smaller world.