China says its new jet to rival Airbus and Boeing will be ready to fly in 2021

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A model of Comac's C919 aircraft at the Singapore Airshow on Feb. 6, 2018.

Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) aims to obtain type certification from China for its narrowbody C919 jet by the end of 2020, putting the state planemaker on track to meet its 2021 goal of delivering the first jet to its launch customer, a senior company executive said on Thursday.

China’s domestically developed C919 jet is a symbol of its civil aerospace ambitions as Beijing wants the single-aisle aircraft to eventually compete with U.S. planemaker Boeing Co’s 737 and Europe’s Airbus SE A320.

The COMAC jet currently has 815 orders from 28 customers, a number that does not include the 200 jets HNA signed up for earlier this month. China Eastern Airlines Corp is the jet’s launch customer.

Europe’s aviation safety regulator is still carrying out the certification process of the C919 jet, Zhang Xiaoguang, general manager of COMAC’s sales and marketing department, said on the sidelines of a conference organized by Airfinance Journal in Shanghai.

The European Aviation Safety Agency said last year it had started the certification process.

Zhang also told reporters that the widebody jet COMAC is currently developing with Russia’s United Aircraft Corp aims to make its maiden flight from 2023.

The companies said last month that the CR929 jet had received proposals from seven foreign and local firms to supply the jet’s engine.

Zhang said these included companies such as Rolls-Royce, General Aviation, Pratt Whitney and Chinese engine manufacturer Aero Engine Corp of China, but added that they had yet to start talks.

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