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Monday, November 2, 2015, 14:03

China rolls out first home-made passenger plane

By Agencies
China rolls out first home-made passenger plane

The first C919, seen here in blue and green livery and built in Shanghai, rolls off the newly-built final assembly line, Nov 2, 2015. ( Photo /IC)

BEIJING - C919, China's first homemade large passenger aircraft rolled out of the final assembly line in Shanghai on Monday.

China is one of the biggest aviation markets but relies on Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The multibillion-dollar effort to create the homegrown C919 jetliner is aimed at clawing back some of the commercial benefits that flow to foreign suppliers.

The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China showed off the first of the twin-engine planes in a ceremony attended by some 4,000 government officials and other guests at a hangar near Shanghai's Pudong International Airport.

"It's a major push for the country, as they want to be known as a major player" in airplane manufacturing, said Mavis Toh, Asia air transport editor for Flightglobal magazine.

The C919 is one of several initiatives launched by the government to transform China from the world's low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology in aviation, clean energy and other fields.

The C919, which can seat up to 168 passengers, is meant to compete in the market for single-aisle jets dominated by Airbus Industrie's A320 and Boeing Co.'s 737.

China rolls out first home-made passenger plane

Its manufacturer, known as COMAC, says it has received orders from 21 customers for a total of 517 aircraft, mostly from Chinese carriers but also from GE Capital Aviation Services.

A separate state-owned company also has developed a smaller regional jet, the ARJ-21, to compete in the market dominated by Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier. The first two ARJ-21s were delivered last year to a Chinese airline.

Most of the C919's critical systems including engines and avionics are being supplied by Western companies or foreign-Chinese joint ventures.

Boeing forecasts China's total demand for civilian jetliners over the next two decades at 5,580 planes worth a total of US$780 billion.

Development of the C919 began in 2008. Plans called for a first flight in 2014 and for it to enter service in 2016, but those targets were pushed back due to production delays. The C919 now is due to fly next year and enter service in about 2019.

One of the biggest components, the core processing and display system, is being supplied by a joint venture between GE Aviation Systems and AVIC, a state-owned Chinese military contractor.

Other suppliers include Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Hamilton Sunstrand.

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