COMAC eyes 750 orders for C919 jet

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Orders for the C919, the first large passenger aircraft produced in China in accordance with international civil aviation regulations, are expected to reach 750 by year's end, corporate officials told China Daily.

C919 lands safely at Shanghai Pudong International Airport after its maiden flight at around 3:20 pm, May 5, 2017. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

"We expect to receive more than 100 new orders for the C919 from some Chinese companies in the coming months," said Xu Pei, deputy chief of the marketing division of Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, the plane's Shanghai-based manufacturer.

The C919, which made its maiden flight on May 5, has a standard range of 4,075 kilometers, making it comparable to the updated Airbus 320 and Boeing's new-generation 737 planes.

The C919 has secured 600 orders from 24 customers both domestic and foreign. COMAC has received 34 orders from GE Capital Aviation Services, the largest commercial airline leasing company in the world, German start-up Puren Airlines, and City Airways of Thailand.

Boeing and Airbus have long dominated the passenger aircraft market, and the C919 is not meant to compete head-to-head with them in fully developed, mature markets.

"Our marketing team is focusing on three major target markets, which are our home market, Africa, and Southeast Asian countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative," Xu said.

Hu Shuangqian, 57, who was a member of the manufacturing team for the Y-10, the nation's first locally made passenger aircraft, is now leading a team working on computerized controls at COMAC. He said he was lucky to be part of the project.

"Since the (Y-10) project was suspended in the 1980s due to various reasons, many of my former colleagues had been dreaming of another chance to build Chinese planes. They did not see that day before their retirement," said Hu.

Since its establishment in 2008, COMAC has worked on the regional jetliner ARJ21, the C919 and a wide-body aircraft to be jointly developed by China and Russia.

In November, COMAC published a report about the global passenger aircraft market between 2016 and 2035, predicting that a total of 39,948 aircraft with a value of $5.23 trillion will be needed in the coming two decades. China alone will need 6,865 passenger aircraft, 65.5 percent of which would be single-aisle planes, 21.2 percent wide-body jets, and 13.3 percent regional jets.

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