China's second homemade COMAC C919 passenger plane takes off on its first test flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on December 17, 2017. [File Photo: Xinhua]
The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), maker of China's first domestically developed large passenger plane, is aiming to deliver its first C919 single-aisle jet to customers in 2021, the company's sales manager said at an airshow ongoing in Singapore.
Lu Zheng, COMAC's deputy general manager of sales and marketing, told reporters with Reuters that COMAC is working on gaining Chinese airworthiness certification for the C919 in three to four years, with U.S. and European certifications to follow.
Lu notes that the approval process "should not have any impact" on the timing of the delivery of the jet to China Eastern Airlines, the first customer for the aircraft.
COMAC has been speaking to U.S. authorities, and the certification process has already been started in Europe by the local aviation safety regulator, said Lu.
Reuters describes the C919 as "a symbol of China's civil aerospace ambitions and President Xi Jinping's push to upgrade manufacturing capabilities," saying it hopes to "compete with Boeing Co's 737 and the Airbus SE A320."
Yuan Wenfeng, director of the C919 Project Office, has previously noted that the development of the C919 is meant to reduce China's dependency on Boeing and Airbus, as well as stimulating the development of China's aviation industry.
Lu said that the recent partnerships between Airbus and Bombardier, and between Boeing and Embraer, would have an influence on the target markets of COMAC 's C919 and ARJ21 models, but that the introduction of the jets will have its own impact on the global market.
"It will have an impact but they've also been impacted by us. We will work hard to go from being a follower into a competitor, and in the future, if we have the opportunity, to become a leader. But it's a long road," said Lu.
The first C919 to roll off the production line completed its trial flight in May last year, and made its first intercity flight from Shanghai to Xi'an in November. A second prototype of the jet completed its first test flight last December.
As of December, 785 orders have been received for the C919 from 27 Chinese and overseas customers, according to China Daily.