BEIJING, Sept 7 China's long-delayed C919 jet
may make its maiden flight by the end of this year, state-owned
planemaker Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC)
said on Wednesday.
"We are working hard to achieve our maiden voyage by around
the end of 2016," Lu Zheng, COMAC's deputy head of marketing,
said at a press conference in Beijing.
The C919 narrowbody jet is currently undergoing rigorous
testing and is the first large-scale Chinese civilian plane
developed in accordance with international test-flight
standards, Lu said.
China is keen to establish itself as a global supplier of
aircraft and it hopes the C919 will compete with Boeing Co's
737 and Airbus Group SE's A320. It also plans to
produce a larger widebody plane in a joint venture with Russia.
However, it has been held back by inexperience, a shortage
of local aerospace design and engineering talent, as well as a
lack of home-grown companies with the technology to help drive
the project, say aerospace industry sources familiar with its
programmes. The challenges have led to multiple delays for the
C919, as well as the ARJ-21 which made its maiden commercial
flight in June.
(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Additional reporting by Adam
Jourdan in Shanghai; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by