Hong Kong: China's domestic commercial aircraft manufacturing capabilities were showcased early this week at the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress in Hong Kong, Asia's biggest air show, with models of the single-aisle C919 jetliner being put up on display. The airliner could see the country's fledgling aviation industry compete with Western rivals Boeing Co and Airbus for a slice of the pie, atleast as far as the domestic sector is concerned.
The C919, with variable seating capacity, is designed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).
Company officials said the plane is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2014 before deliveries begin in 2016. They also confirmed that work on the first prototype had begun last week.
The C919 is designed for short- to medium-range hauls of up to 4,075-5,555 km, and can seat 168 in the full economy class version and 156 in a mixed class configuration.
If successful, COMAC will initially produce up to 50 C919 aircraft on an annual basis with production ramping up to 100 aircraft and more subsequently.
COMAC officials said they were currently in talks with major engine suppliers, including General Electric, Rolls Royce and United Technologies Corp's Pratt and Whitney.
The C919 could not only see China securing the domestic market for itself but also making a push for the international market.
According to CAPA, Boeing expects Chinese carriers will order around 2,600 new single-aisle aircraft over the next 20 years, potentially a $200 billion market.