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Home-made aircraft orders take off

By Xu Tianran (Global Times)

14:22, November 14, 2012

A C919 aircraft model exhibited at the 9th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition.(Xinhua Photo)

Airshow China 2012 saw Tuesday new purchase agreements being inked for the country's large passenger aircraft and the first deal made for its advanced trainer jet.

Purchase agreements for a total of 50 C919 passenger aircraft between manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC) and General Electric Capital Aviation Services, Joyair and Hebei Aviation Group were the highlight of the show's opening day in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province.

With new customers on board, the C919, a 150-seat class narrow-body airliner designed to deliver a 10 percent reduction in operation costs compared with its Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 rivals, has received a total of 380 orders so far. US company Eastern Airlines also signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase the plane on Tuesday.

Tian Ming, chief accountant of COMAC, said after the signing ceremony that Chinese and world markets will require 4,000 and 20,000 new 150-seater planes respectively over the next 20 years.

"COMAC's strategy is to focus on the domestic market while trying to explore overseas," he said. "Progress has been in accordance with established plans and the C919 will make its maiden flight in 2014 and be delivered to customers in 2016," he added.

However, Aviation Week quoted industry sources as saying that though the C919 program reached its halfway mark this year, and has already used up all available spare time in its timetable. This means there will be no room for delay if the C919 is to meet its maiden flight deadline.

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