New Airbus, Boeing rival taking shape

09:40, November 25, 2010      

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The Pakistani Air Force's Sherdils aerobatic team rehearses in Zhuhai Monday ahead of Tuesday's start of Airshow China. Photo: CFP

The nation's most-advanced warplanes and homemade commercial planes are taking center stage among more than 70 aircraft from 35 countries showcased at China's largest-ever aircraft exhibition, which commences Tuesday.

And the C919 jumbo jet is one of the aircraft getting the most attention.
A full-size prototype of China's first homemade large passenger jet will debut during the Zhuhai air show.

Chinese military planes such as KJ-200, J-10 fighters, H-6 and JH-7 bombers and commercial ARJ21 and C919 jets are among highlights of the 8th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition.

The Air Force of the People's Liberation Army, a new sponsor of the event this year, is exhibiting a majority of its aircraft fleet, including the August 1 Aerobatic Team, newly equipped with J-10 fighters, and the parachute jumping team that was displayed at the 60th National Day Parade last year.

The J-10, with its featured pair of canards and delta wing, is the first supersonic third-generation fighter designed and manufactured using Chinese indigenous technologies.

Aiming to compete with Boeing's 737 and Airbus's A320, which are the plane makers' most popular models, the C919 is scheduled to make its maiden fight in 2014 and be delivered in 2016 after becoming air-certified.

Hundreds of orders of the C919 - a passenger plane that will carry more than 150 passengers or more than 100 tons of cargo - are expected to be announced, according to Zhang Xinguo, vice president of the Aviation Industry Corp of China.

"The C919 is China's first step toward tapping into the commercial airline market. But the country still has a long way to go to catch up with giants Airbus and Boeing," Liu Jiangyu, an airlines analyst with Xiangcai Securities, told the Global Times.

Julius Yeo, a analyst with Frost & Sullivan aerospace, said Airbus and Boeing's market shares will be diluted by the C919 in the long term, and government-backed financing may boost its sales at home and overseas, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, aerobatic teams from both home and abroad will stage maneuvers at the six-day show, which ends Sunday. The August 1 Aerobatic Team will fly six J-10 fighters in formation in the sky over Zhuhai.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) sent three JF-17 fighters and the Sherdils aerobatic team, which consists of 10 Chinese Hongdu K-8 trainers, to perform at the air show.

"The K-8 is very easy to handle; the fuel consumption is low; it is a very good trainer aircraft," Anum, a female flying officer of the PAF, told the Global Times Monday.

By Xu Tianran in Zhuhai and Zhu Shanshan in Beijing, Global Times
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