October 22 ,2017 , 12:22 PM
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China unveils passenger aircraft to challenge Boeing and Airbus


As China’s first big domestically-made passenger plane, C919, rolled off the assembly line on Monday, President Xi Jinping expressed his congratulations to developers and called for careful preparation for a maiden flight.

“Xi said in an instruction that safety and quality of the aircraft should be prioritized during the preparation for the first flight, which is scheduled for next year.” 

China has unveiled its first large passenger aircraft in decades, in an effort to mount a challenge to plane makers Boeing and Airbus. The C919, with 168 seats and range of 3,444 miles, was displayed at a ceremony attended by 4,000 guests. The C919's first test flight is not until 2016, but the unveiling was seen as having huge industrial significance.

"A great nation must have its own large commercial aircraft," the country's civil aviation chief Li Jiaxiang said."China's air transport industry cannot completely rely on imports," he told the ceremony at a hangar near Shanghai's Pudong International Airport.

The aircraft represents "an important step in China's economy moving beyond low-cost manufacturing". The C919's manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) says it has orders for 517 aircraft from 21 customers, most of them Chinese airlines, but also from leasing company GE Capital Aviation Services The development of the new aircraft has been hit by delays since the project was conceived in 2008. Assuming the test flights are successful, the C919 is due to enter commercial service in about 2019.

Airbus-Boeing duopoly

China has had ambitions to build its own civil aircraft industry since the 1970s . But the Y-10's heavy weight made it impractical and only three were ever made. Boeing's latest World Market Outlook puts China's total demand for civilian aircraft over the next two decades at 5,580 planes worth a total of $780bn. The C919 will compete in the market for single-aisle jets dominated by Airbus A320 and Boeing's 737. But the Chinese aircraft is just the start of a strategy to eat into the Airbus-Boeing duopoly.

Thursday, Nov 05, 2015 12:35 pm

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