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Bloomberg News:China's Comac Expects Mass Production of C919 Plane after 2021

Last Updated (Beijing Time):2018-02-10   Source:Bloomberg News
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The state-owned Chinese company producing the nation's first homebuilt single-aisle commercial aircraft expects to start mass production of the plane after 2021 as it seeks to chase markets in Asia and Africa.

The C919 jet, built by Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., will take about three to four years to get certification for airworthiness from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, Lu Zheng, deputy general manager of sales at the company known as Comac, said in an interview at the Singapore Airshow on Tuesday.

The C919 is part of President Xi Jinping's "Made in China 2025" program, which has identified aerospace among sectors that could accelerate China's advancement. China's ambition is to challenge the duopoly of Boeing Co. and Airbus SE in commercial aviation a few years down the line with its own range of aircraft. The Asian country has also teamed up with Russia to build a widebody jet.

"We're working hard to change from a follower to challenger and we are striving to become a leader in the industry some day," Lu said. "It will be a long journey for us."

A certification by the CAAC will still only allow the plane within China. The planemaker needs to get all approvals from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency to enable it to sell the aircraft in developed markets.

"We want to get certification from CAAC as soon as possible," Lu said. "Once we get certification from FAA or EASA, it will help us greatly in making a push."

The C919 made its maiden test flight in May last year and the full flight test program will develop over the next two years, Steven Lien, Asia president of Honeywell International Inc.'s aerospace unit, said earlier Tuesday at the same event. The U.S. firm is one of the contractors involved in the project.

Comac, which has also developed a regional jet called the ARJ21, aims to deliver the first business jet variant of the model to Shanghai-based Yanshang Group this year, Lu said.

The C919 has a total of 785 orders, mostly from Chinese airlines and lessors. The ARJ21 has 433 orders. Chengdu Airlines, which counts Comac as a major stakeholder, now flies four ARJ21.

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