Chinese passenger jet C919 takes on Boeing and Airbus

Visitors inspect the C919 prototype at an aviation exhibition during the Zhuhai Airshow

China is taking on the world’s only large commercial aircraft producers Boeing and Airbus with its first homegrown passenger jet, the C919.

The C919, built by state-owned enterprise Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac),  is a single-aisle commercial liner designed to compete with the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737. It was officially unveiled at the Zhuhai air show in south China on November 16.  Orders are already pouring in, Comac claims, with 100 orders from four Chinese domestic airlines Air China, China Southern, China Eastern and Hainan Airlines, as well as the U.S.-owned GE Capital Aviation Service.

No details on the planes’ cost or how many planes each company ordered have been made available, although state media reports that the estimated market price for the C919 is 20 percent cheaper than its foreign competitors.

The company expects to sell more than 2,000 C919s globally over the next 20 years.

The 156-seater is 17 meters long, 5.6 meters tall and 3.96 meters wide. The fuselage will bear the Comac name but crucial systems on the inside are produced by Western aviation companies, according to The Age.

The first “9” in the craft’s model number stands for “forever,” based on two words’ similar pronunciations in Chinese. The “19” refers to the maximum number of 190 seats on the aircraft.  Test flights for the C919 are set for 2014 and the planes will be delivered in 2016.

Comac added that the C919 hopes to cash in on China’s domestic demand for planes. Some 4,439 commercial jets are expected to be needed in China by the year 2029, consituting 14 percent of the world’s demand.

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