Dragon's giant leap! China to launch its biggest passenger aircraft this year

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Beijing, Feb 23: China plans to roll out its biggest passenger aircraft later this year as it attempts to take on Western aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus.

The C919 large passenger aircraft, in 168-seat and 156-seat layouts, will roll off assembly lines this year, its manufacturer the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China said.

The basic assembly of the aircraft has been completed, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Earlier this month, the C919's vertical fin and the back end of the rear fuselage were delivered to the state-owned aircraft maker from domestic manufacturers.

The company has secured orders for 450 C919 planes from 18 customers, the Xinhua report said without providing details. Most of the orders were stated to be from the domestic airlines which have been placing big orders with Boeing and Airbus considering the large expansion of the aviation sector.

The C919 will compete with Boeing and Airbus in the medium-range aircraft sector, it said. The plane's first test flight is planned for this year. China will become the world's largest domestic aviation market in the next decade, an Airbus forecast said.

The country will need more than 5,300 new passenger aircraft and freighters between 2014 and 2033, with a total market value of USD 820 billion or 17 per cent of total global demand, in the next 20 years, according to a forecast by Xinhua. In view of the burgeoning demand, China is building more airports including a third one in Beijing.

PTI 

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