Home­made pas­sen­ger jet set for 1st flight

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s first do­mes­ti­cally pro­duced sin­gle-aisle pas­sen­ger jet, the C919, is ex­pected to take to the sky for its maiden flight on Fri­day, as the coun­try en­deav­ors to meet soar­ing do­mes­tic travel de­mand and break the global market du­op­oly of Boe­ing Co and Air­bus Group SE.

The de­but flight is set to take place at Shang­hai Pudong International Air­port, sub­ject to weather con­di­tions, the C919’s Shang­haibased man­u­fac­turer, Com­mer­cial Air­craft Corp of China, said onWed­nes­day.

Soon af­ter it was es­tab­lished in 2008, CO­MAC be­gan the re­search to de­velop the twin-en­gine C919, which would be used for medium-haul flights with 158 to 174 seats. It is ex­pected to com­pete with the up­dated Air­bus A320 and the new­gen­er­a­tion Boe­ing B737.

China has its own mil­i­tary and re­gional air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers, and the devel­op­ment of the air­plane serves as a key in­dex to as­sess the coun­try’s in­dus­trial and tech­ni­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity.

“The first flight of the C919 sig­nals that China will be able to make a sig­nif­i­cant break­through for the coun­try’s civil air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, and it could have the op­por­tu­nity to break the mo­nop­o­lies of Boe­ing and Air­bus,” said Lin Zhi­jie, an avi­a­tion in­dus­try an­a­lyst and colum­nist at Carnoc.com, a large Chinese civil avi­a­tion web­site.

De­spite the promising fu­ture, Lin said the C919’s en­try to the market won’t oc­cur soon. The date it goes into op­er­a­tion is ex­pected to be be­tween 2020 and 2022.

So far, CO­MAC has re­ceived 570 or­ders for the C919 from 23 clients, in­clud­ing do­mes­tic air­lines such as the State-owned Air China, China South­ern and China Eastern; and pri­vate air­lines Hainan Air­lines and Sichuan Air­lines. China Eastern will be the first to take de­liv­ery.

Overseas or­ders ac­count for about 10 per­cent of the to­tal, in­clud­ing air­lines from Ger­many and Thai­land and oth­ers from the Asia Pa­cific re­gion and Africa.

Boe­ing ear­lier pre­dicts that China will need 5,110 new sin­gle-aisle air­planes through 2035, ac­count­ing for 75 per­cent of the to­tal de­liv­ery for China from global air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers.

“While the pro­gram has faced its share of chal­lenges — like any devel­op­ment pro­gram of this size — the re­sults speak for them­selves,” said Steven Lien, pres­i­dent of Honey­well Aero­space Asia Pa­cific, one of the C919’s sup­pli­ers.

“The C919 is a sleek, mod­ern and ef­fi­cient air­plane. It is ready to com­pete on a global scale, herald­ing China’s am­bi­tious plans to grow and de­velop its do­mes­tic air trans­porta­tion in­dus­try with the help of international part­ners.”

CO­MAC said last week it has started the re­search to de­velop a wide­body com­mer­cial jet with Rus­sia for de­liv­ery within 10 years.

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