Millennium Post

China plans rival to Boeing & Airbus

The proposed aircraft —tentatively called the C929 — would be state-backed Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC)'s largest, according to suppliers that have held discussions with the firm.

It would be a substantial advance on the smaller 158-168 seat narrow-body C919 it is currently developing and the 78-90 seat ARJ21 regional jet, which is undergoing test flights. The goal is for the C929 — which could carry several hundred passengers at a time on journeys across Asia — to take flight after 2020, possibly in 2023.

COMAC's ambitions will be on parade at China's premier airshow, which opens Tuesday in the southern city of Zhuhai, with a huge stand highlighting the C919 and a flying display by a prototype ARJ21. The technological challenges for China to build its own passenger plane are formidable, with some comparing them to the difficulty of sending a mission to the moon. But the government considers developing a passenger aircraft industry a national priority that would vault it into an elite club of just a handful of nations.

At the same time Russia has drawn closer to its ally China in the face of Western sanctions over Ukraine and following two years of discussions, the two countries signed an agreement in May to develop what Chinese state media call the 'big plane'.

COMAC's strategic partner for the C929 is Russia's United Aircraft Corp., created in 2006 when Moscow combined the assets of the country's largest state-owned aircraft manufacturers, which have
decades of experience.

'Russia and China have been working together, figuring out things, now they're ready to start talking and getting ideas from suppliers,' said Briand Greer, president of aerospace for Asia-Pacific for US firm Honeywell, which already provides components and systems for both the C919 and ARJ21.
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