Sen­tury’s China-made air­craft tires set to roll

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By WANG YING in Shang­hai and XIE CHUANJIAO in Qing­dao, Shan­dong

The first batch of com­mer­cial air­craft tires made by a Chi­nese com­pany is ex­pected to roll off the pro­duc­tion line by the end of this year, which will likely end the his­tory of total re­liance on im­ported tires for China’s civil­ian air­craft.

Qing­dao Sen­tury Tire Co Ltd, man­u­fac­turer of the home-made air­craft tire, has just poured 300 mil­lion yuan ($44 mil­lion) into the new fa­cil­ity, which cov­ers 30,000 square me­ters and will reach a ca­pac­ity of 150,000 tires per an­num in the com­ing five years.

Lin Yi­long, gen­eral man­ager from Qing­dao Sen­tury, said bullish mar­ket needs have pro­vided a huge op­por­tu­nity for air­plane tire pro­duc­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Boe­ing’s fore­cast, China’s civil­ian air­craft fleet, in­clud­ing both pas­sen­ger air­craft and cargo air­craft, will reach 7,210 by 2034, nearly three times that of 2014.

This will cre­ate a lu­cra­tive mar­ket for air­craft tires as the in­dus­try prac­tice is to re­place air­craft tires af­ter 150 take­offs and land­ings.

The air­craft tire mar­ket is dom­i­nated by Miche­lin, Bridge­stone and Goodyear, whose mar­ket shares are 37 per­cent, 30 per­cent and 20 per­cent re­spec­tively, ac­cord­ing to Lin.

Qing­dao Sen­tury also plans to de­velop tires for de­fense air­craft. Ac­cord­ing to RUAG World Air Forces Spe­cial Re­port 2015, there are 2,787 de­fense air­craft in China.

Qing­dao Sen­tury started its moves in this direction seven years ago, when a 53-mem­ber team was formed for the re­search and de­vel­op­ment of air­craft tires.

But pro­duc­ing a high-per­for­mance plane tire is not easy be­cause it has to bear the weight of a plane full of pas­sen­gers and cargo, re­sist the smash onto the ground, and re­main sta­ble on sun-baked ground as well as in skies un­der zero tem­per­a­ture.

“Our group was chal­lenged by the strict and spe­cific de­mand for the air­plane tire. It re­quires dozens of times load ca­pac­ity of tra­di­tional au­to­mo­bile tires, and some three and four times the speed of reg­u­lar car tires,” said Sheng Baoxin, vice-gen­eral man­ager with Qing­dao Sen­tury.

Af­ter go­ing through count­less fail­ures and tests, Sentu- ry’s tire team mas­tered the state-of-art tech­nol­ogy and even re­ceived in­de­pen­dent in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights. What is more, its low costs in lo­gis­tics and de­liv­ery ef­fi­ciency have gained a spe­cial ad­van­tage over well-known in­ter­na­tional peers.

In De­cem­ber 2016, Sen­tury re­ceived ap­proval from the Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China for pro­duc­ing air­craft tires for use in China on four Boe­ing 737 air­craft mod­els.

Later, Sen­tury sought to re­search and de­velop tires for the Boe­ing 777, Boe­ing 787, Air­bus A320, Air­bus A350 and the Air­bus A380 mod­els, as well as for China’s home­grown pas- sen­ger air­craft, the C919, and re­gional jet, the ARJ21, etc.

“Cur­rently, we are pre­par­ing to ap­ply for more air­wor­thi­ness cer­ti­fi­ca­tions from the US and Europe, as well as in other na­tions and re­gions. Mean­time, we will also ap­ply for ap­provals of the world’s ma­jor air­craft mak­ers for orig­i­nal in­stal­la­tion in air­craft of Air­bus, Boe­ing and COMAC (Com­mer­cial Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion of China),” said Sheng.

Our group was chal­lenged by the strict and spe­cific de­mand for the air­plane tire.” Sheng Baoxin, vice-gen­eral man­ager with Qing­dao Sen­tury

Zhu Wen­qian in Bei­jing con­trib­uted to this story.

Con­tact the writ­ers at wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

CHEN ZHONGQIU / FOR CHINA DAILY

A main­te­nance man checks the tire of an air­craft which just tax­ied to the park­ing apron in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

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