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What would it take to have a new large civil aircraft manufacturer besides Boeing and Airbus, that is not state sponsored (C919, MC-21)

In other words, what are the chances a new company would break into the market? What would it take?

If you look at the US past aircrafts, there is an abundance of companies producing large civil aircraft: Boeing, Convair, Douglas, Lockheed, Martin. Then there were the French, the British and the Russian manufacturers. Now there is Boeing and Airbus. Embraer and Bombardier are producing rather small planes for today's standards, even if they are impressive compared to historic planes.

The regional jet market is a lot more competitive, with the CRJs and ERJs under pressure from MRJ, SJ-100 and ARJ. Could one of those companies successfully grow into Boeing and Airbus market?

What are the chances a start-up, with no state money, will come to market with a new 100+ seats plane in the next 20-30 years? Could a SpaceX type of company be successful in the airplane manufacturing industry?

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    $\begingroup$ Question: How do you make a small fortune in the airline business? Answer: You start with a large fortune. $\endgroup$ – Terry Aug 25 '15 at 5:07
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    $\begingroup$ You are comparing aircraft manufacturers and SpaceX. Without NASA money there wouldn't be any SpaceX. Thus, the whole question is based on a false premise. The aerospace industry is, in general, subsidized by governments. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Aug 25 '15 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ The one company that I've always expected to jump into this business is GE. I wonder why they don't. They have the deep pockets & the aviation connections from their engines division. Besides they are already into heavy industries that would give them the talent & facilities for constructing 100+ PAX aircraft. $\endgroup$ – curious_cat Aug 25 '15 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ @curious_cat why would they throw away a few billion at designing and marketing an aircraft that would compete with other aircraft they already make a few billion on supplying the engines? $\endgroup$ – jwenting Aug 25 '15 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting Which aircraft does GE make that a 100+ seat model would compete with? To me it sounded forward integration. $\endgroup$ – curious_cat Aug 25 '15 at 12:14
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What are the chances a start-up, with no state money, will come to market with a new 100+ seats plane in the next 20-30 years?

If you count Bombardier, the chances are roughly 100%. The Bombardier C-Series, which will seat 140 (160 max,) is scheduled to enter service within this year (2015.) However, Bombardier is hardly a 'start-up' in the normal sense.

Bombardier C-Series
Bombardier C-Series Mock-Up (Source: Wikipedia)

For a real start-up (e.g. a SpaceX-style company,) the chances will be much more slim. It takes billions of dollars worth of investments to design a modern commercial airliner before you will ever see the first dime of revenue. Start-ups generally won't have access to that kind of money until they have had time to mature and developed a steady revenue stream from other successful products (which is how Bombardier is doing it.)

Could a SpaceX type of company be successful in the airplane manufacturing industry?

That depends greatly on the type of airplanes in question. Undoubtedly, this is possible in the light general aviation market. Several such companies have come and gone over the years. One interesting start-up that is planning to enter production soon is Terrafugia, a start-up from MIT, which is building aircraft that fold up into street-legal cars that can just drive away from the airport and park in your garage. However, the larger airliner market is a completely different ballgame, involving development costs that are orders of magnitude higher. Start-ups have a difficult time getting started in markets with such huge barriers to entry.

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  • $\begingroup$ except that Bombardier is hardly a startup AND is heavily state backed (or at least used to be, not sure about now that they're well established and have been a successful business for decades). $\endgroup$ – jwenting Aug 25 '15 at 14:40
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This question is much more about economics than about aviation. What would it take to have a new large civil aircraft manufacturer? It is a question of economics, and the analysis is essentially indifferent to the industry, per se.

No surprise that the regional market is more competitive, in the sense that there are more aircraft manufacturers. Generally, as aircraft increase in size they become more difficult to produce while the market for them grows smaller.

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