9 NOVEMBER 2015
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China has surged into the market for narrow-bodied passenger aircraft with the unveiling of the C919 twin-engine jetliner to compete with Boeing and Airbus. It is due to fly next year and enter airline service in 2019.
The manufacturer, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), introduced the first aircraft in a ceremony near Pudong International Airport, Shanghai, attended by 4,000 government officials and other guests.
The multi-billion-dollar project is designed to change the situation where China, one of the biggest aviation markets, has to rely on aircraft manufactured outside the country. It is also intended to make China a home for aviation and clean-energy technology.
The single-aisle C919 seats 168 passengers and is a direct competitor to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. Comac is reported to have orders from 21 customers for 517 aircraft.
Another Chinese jet, the ARJ-21, smaller than the C919 and designed for regional routes, has been developed by another manufacturer to compete against the likes of Embraer of Brazil and Bombardier of Canada. The first two were delivered last year to a Chinese carrier.
Boeing has forecast China's demand for civilian jetliners over the next 20 years more than 5,500 aircraft worth a total of US$780bn. www.comac.cc
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