Hong Kong, Dec 14: Chinese aerospace company COMAC has showcased its domestically-developed C919 passenger jet in Hong Kong, giving officials and media a close-up look at the narrow-bodied aircraft.
A welcome ceremony for the C919 and an ARJ21, another Chinese-made jet made by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, was held at the Hong Kong international airport on Wednesday, a day after both flew into Hong Kong for the first time.
At the event, Hong Kong’s leader John Lee said China’s successful development of the large passenger jet indicates its “leading position in the transportation manufacturing industry.” He added that the two airplanes’ visit to Hong Kong demonstrates the importance that China places on Hong Kong’s aviation industry.
More than 1,000 orders have been placed for the C919, Lee said, and Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department has participated in certifying the aircraft and training pilots to fly it.
COMAC is preparing to take on Airbus and Boeing in the market for single-aisle commercial aircraft. But while it designed many of the C919’s parts, some key components are still sourced from the West, including its engine.
The C919 is due to perform a flyby over the city’s scenic Victoria Harbor on Saturday, giving people on the waterfront a glimpse of the new aircraft, weather permitting.
Both planes will be on display at Hong Kong’s international airport until Sunday and can be visited by officials and lawmakers, representatives from the aviation industry and youth groups, among others, it said.
The aerospace industry is viewed as an important step on the path laid out by Chinese leaders to transform the country from the world’s low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology.
More recently, the focus has turned to other strategically important industries such as computer chips, renewable energy and artificial intelligence. But China is expected to become one of the world’s biggest aircraft markets over the next two decades.
The narrow-bodied C919 airliner was in development for 16 years and received certification in 2022. It has a maximum range of about 3,500 miles (5,630 km) and is designed to carry 158-168 passengers. The plane made its maiden commercial flight in May from Shanghai to Beijing.
COMAC delivered its first ARJ21s in 2014. A smaller aircraft, it can seat 78 to 90 passengers depending on its configuration, with a range of up to 3,700 km (2,300 miles). It was designed as a rival to aircraft made by Bombardier Inc of Canada and Brazil’s Embraer SA.