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Jet sale boosts China's rivalry with Airbus, Boeing
With a GE subsidiary and Chinese carriers signing deals for C919 passenger aircraft, China's Comac sharpens its aim on aviation's big players
The biggest news to come out of China's major international air show, which concluded on Sunday, is the announcement of orders for 50 C919 commercial jets.
The C919 is China's answer to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 -- a single-aisle, 168-seat, narrow-body commercial liner produced by Chinese state-run aircraft manufacturer Comac (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China).
According to a company statement, GE Capital Aviation Service (a GE subsidiary) placed an order for 10 planes, while two Chinese airline operators, Hebei Airlines and Joy Air, placed orders for 20 aircraft each.
The China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition was held from November 13 to 18 in Zhuhai.
Eastern Air Lines, a defunct U.S. carrier that may be revived with an injection of investment, may become the first U.S. airline to fly Comac planes. At the air show, representatives from Eastern Air Lines signed a memorandum of understanding with Comac for future aircraft sales.
Chinese carriers such as Air China, China Eastern and China Southern have been Comac's biggest buyers to date. The latest order places total C919 sales at 380.
In the same announcement, Comac predicted that the world will need 31,739 new aircraft by 2031, with the Chinese market being the largest, with a need for 4,273 new large passenger aircraft by the same date.
Test flights for the C919 are scheduled for 2014, while the first orders are slated to be delivered in 2016.