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China wins orders for 100 homegrown passenger jets

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The C919 aircraft.

BEIJING (AFP): China has won orders for 100 of its large, domestically built passenger jets, challenging industry giants Airbus and Boeing in what will soon become the world’s largest aviation market.

China’s three largest airlines signed deals to buy the C919, as did other firms including the aircraft leasing arm of General Electric, the official Global Times newspaper said on its website.

The Chinese airlines involved are Air China, China Southern and China Eastern.

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), the jet’s manufacturer, announced the deals on the opening day of Zhuhai Airshow in the southern province of Guangdong on Tuesday, but did not say how many planes were in each order or for how much.

The C919 – a single-aisle jet that can seat up to 190 passengers – is China's first large homegrown passenger jet, and is seen as a potential competitor to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.

A prototype of the C919 was unveiled in Zhuhai on Monday. The plane is due to make a trial flight in 2014 and should be delivered to clients in 2016.

Wu Guanghui, chief designer of the plane and COMAC vice president, said the Chinese firm had forecast demand for C919s in the domestic and overseas markets to hit 2,000, according to the official China Daily.

It did not give a timeframe for that estimate.

COMAC refused to comment when contacted by AFP.

The plane is a key part of China's plan to break the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing in the production of large commercial jets, which it currently relies on to fuel its domestic aviation market – soon to become world’s biggest.

Just two weeks ago, Airbus signed a deal worth $14 billion to supply 102 airliners to Chinese firms.

Air traffic in China, which has doubled in the past decade, is again expected to double by 2020, with the number of airports set to grow from 160 to 240, according to forecasts drawn up by the European planemaker.

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China  Aircraft  
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