China Eastern Airlines COMAC C919

Safety is the reason why Lufthansa would not fly Chinese planes

According to Carsten Spohr, CEO of the German carrier, in the coming years the hypothesis is “not realistic”. Company prefers to bet on Boeing’s recovery

Lufthansa Group Chief Executive Carsten Spohr is yet another person to be disappointed with Boeing and the persistent problems facing the US company.

In an interview with Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the CEO, however, stated that he believes in the planemaker’s recovery. “The industry needs two strong suppliers. Everyone has a vested interest in Boeing being able to build large aircraft more reliably again soon,” he said.

According to Spohr, every day 30,000 commercial planes take off around the world and half of them were built by Boeing.

Lufthansa, not least, has a series of orders for 737, 787 and 777X jets, which it will be the launch customer from 2026, if there are no unforeseen events.

But amid uncertainty about failures in the production line and the choice of Boeing’s new CEO, Carsten Spohr was faced with a disturbing question: “can you imagine buying a Chinese aircraft?”.

“Given the safety standards we have set in the Lufthansa Group, I don’t think this is realistic for the next few years,” Spohr said.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr (Lufthansa)

Chinese jets still far from Europe

The Lufthansa Chief Executive’s observation is quite sensible as currently China’s most advanced commercial aircraft, the COMAC C919, has only been performing revenue flights for China Eastern Airlines for just a year.

Although it is equivalent to a Boeing 737 and an Airbus A320, the C919 is not as modern, making up for the lower price.

Even so, COMAC is far from reaching a production rate capable of meeting domestic demand in China and still accepting large orders abroad.

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Lufthansa´s Boeing 777-9 rendering

More than that, and in line with the German CEO’s concern, Chinese jets still do not have type certification in the West. EASA has started evaluating the C919, but the process does not seem to have progressed much.

Certainly, China’s aircraft would still not be able to meet all the safety requirements of an EASA or FAA, however, this seems only a matter of time.

Perhaps if the question is asked again to Carsten Spohr in five years, the answer could be different.


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