Qingdao Sentury Tire held a press conference last month to announce that the Civil Aviation Authority in China had approved the company’s aircraft tyres. Sentury’s aviation tyres received the MDA (Modification Design Approval) certification by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) after the Civil Aviation Authority conducted take-off and landing tests on a Boeing 737 that was fitted with the tyres at Yantai Laishan Airport in Shandong Province. This marks the first time that a private tyre manufacturer in China has received such an approval. The MDA certification means that Sentury aviation tyres can be sold and used throughout the country an dChina will not have to depend on imported tyres any more.
The press conference to announce the news of the approval was held in Qingdao last month and at the event a company representative declared that the “monopoly” held by foreign tyre brands in the Chinese civil aviation tyre market was broken. Sentury Tire has a stated goal of becoming one of the leading suppliers of aircraft tyres in the world and is setting up a tyre research and development centre that will specialize only in aircraft tyres to this end.
In order to foster a steady source of talent, Qingdao Sentury Tire had recently signed an agreement of cooperation with the Civil Aviation University of China. The company would be funding 20 scholarships at the university on an annual basis in order to promote China’s aviation sector.
Qingdao Sentury Tire Co had invested USD 44 million in a new plant to make aircraft tyres and the factory is expected to produce its first tyres by the end of this year. When it reaches its full capacity within a period of five years, it is expected to produce 150,000 tires on an annual basis.
Making tyres for aircraft and getting approval for them is a lot tougher than making tyres for vehicles. Aircraft tyres should be strong enough to tolerate a wide range of temperatures, should be able to support the weight of a full plane loaded with passengers and cargo and should be able to take the thrust and impact of landing on the ground. After many tests and failures, the company’s team of scientists succeeded in mastering the technology and even received independent intellectual property rights. Other key factors that could help it get an edge over foreign rivals is greater efficiency when it comes to delivery efficiency and low costs.
Boeing had projected that by 2034, China’s fleet of civilian aircraft including both cargo and passenger aircraft will reach 7,210. This is nearly three times the size of the fleet in 2014 and as the normal practice in the industry is to replace aircraft tyres after 150 takeoffs and landings, the market is set to boom. The key players in the aircraft tyre market at the global level are Michelin, Bridgestone and Goodyear. If all goes as planned, Sentury is set to emerge as a serious competitor within the next five years. The company is already gearing up to apply for more approvals from the Europe and US as well as other key markets. It already has plans to apply for approvals from the leading manufacturers of aircraft like Boeing and Airbus for factory fitment.