Watch out Airbus and Boeing (BA). China’s moving in on your turf.
On Monday, the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China showed off its first homegrown passenger airplane at an unveiling ceremony in a hangar near Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. Some 4,000 government officials and spectators attended the event.
The twin-engine C919 jet that seats 168 passengers—similar to single-aisle jets such as Airbus Industrie’s A320 and Boeing Co.’s 737—is an effort by the ruling Communist Party to capitalize on China’s growing aviation market by stealing some of the commercial benefits of building planes that now belongs to industry stalwarts Boeing and Airbus.
The Commercial Aircraft Corp. says that it has received 517 orders for the C919 from 21 customers, the Associated Press reports. The manufacturer has a captive customer base in China’s major airlines because they are state-owned. Boeing has pegged China’s demand for civilian jetliners at 5,580 airplanes worth approximately $780 billion over the next 20 years, according to the AP.
China began development on the C919 in 2008. It was due to take flight last year and to enter services in 2016, but those plans were delayed because of production hang-ups. It’s now expected to fly next year and enter service in 2019.