China has long wanted to have its own passenger jet, not only to reduce its reliance on Boeing and Airbus, but just to have one for itself. After all it doesn’t suit a country of China’s stature and position in the world to not have a locally produced commercial jet. China’s state-owned airplane manufacturer has revealed the C919, it’s a commercial jet that has the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 in its sights.
Domestic air traffic is rapidly increasing in China and that’s one of the reasons which has fueled the need for a homegrown jet, if it can build them locally it wouldn’t have to purchase as much from Boeing and Airbus as it does right now. China can also sell the C919 to airlines that are looking for cheaper alternatives to the Boeing and Airbus planes.
The C919 has been manufactured by the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China. Depending on cabin layout it can seat up between 158 to 174 passengers. The state-owned company says that it has already received 517 orders for the plane from 21 different customers, it expects to start delivering the plane by 2018 or 2019 at the most, provided that flight testing scheduled for next year goes off without any major issues.
It remains to be seen though how the C919 will fare outside of China and if it will really be able to steal business away from Boeing and Airbus, both of which have been around for a very long time. The company making this jet gets a built-in market inside China because the states owns many local airlines but many industry watchers will be more interested in seeing if any foreign airlines express interest in purchasing China’s first locally produced commercial airliner.