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Jetliner to challenge market leaders

By Xin Dingding  (China Daily)

15:10, September 22, 2011

BEIJING - The maker of China's largest commercial aircraft, the C919, said it hopes to capture one-third of the country's single-aisle aircraft market in 20 years, breaking the lengthy domination of that market by Boeing and Airbus.

Following the first 100 orders for C919s announced last November, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China will announce new orders next month, said Tian Min, the corporation's chief accountant, at the Aviation Expo China 2011 in Beijing on Sept 21.

The new orders will be signed with customers from home and abroad, said Tian, without elaborating. He did say there will be more than 50 orders.

The C919 is expected to take its maiden flight in 2014 and the first delivery will be made by 2016.

So far the plane's overall layout plan has been finalized, and the project is expected to enter the engineering development stage soon, he said.

However, as both Airbus and Boeing have announced re-engined single-aisle jetliner models, which will be direct competitors with the C919, Tian admitted competition in the market sector will be intensified.

"Our advantages partly lie in the cheaper manufacturing cost," he said.

Dang Tiehong, director of market research for the aircraft corporation, said that markets in Africa and neighboring countries are also believed to be potential customers for the C919.

In China, the 150-seat C919 and the ARJ21, a 90-seat regional aircraft developed by the corporation, will be the "main force" in northern and western parts of China, where most of 55 new airports will be built by 2015, Dang said.

China is expected to have a passenger plane fleet of 5,400 planes by 2030, including 3,800 single-aisle jetliners, according to the market outlook released by the corporation on Sept 21.

Single-aisle aircraft are now the most widely used models in China and the world.

The number of single-aisle jets in China doubled to 1,258 in the five years to 2010 and is forecast to grow at 5.7 percent annually over the next 20 years. Single-aisle jets now account for 78 percent of China's passenger fleet.

As more than half of the current fleet will be retired in the next 20 years, 3,100 single-aisle jetliners will be brought into service in China in the next 20 years, according to the corporation.

Meanwhile, the domestic aero-engine for the C919 made its debut when a model of it was displayed at the aviation expo that opened on Sept 21 and will run until Sept 24.

The aero-engine, CJ-1000A, was named after the Yangtze River, one of China's longest rivers, to symbolize continuous power for the domestically developed commercial engines.

The developer of the engine, AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine, said the engine is expected to be approved as airworthy by 2020.

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