China Unveils Its Biggest Passenger Plane

China’s unvelied its first big passenger plane C919 to challenge foreign giants Airbus and Boeing for market share.

C919 a narrow-body jet which can seat 168 passengers, at the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) facility in Shanghai.

The plane will reduce dependence on European consortium Airbus and Boeing of the United States, and even compete against them.

Development of the C919 began in 2008. The C919 now is due to fly next year and enter service in about 2019.

The aircraft, which has a range of up to 5,555 kilometres (3,444 miles), will make its first test flight in 2016.

Its manufacturer, known as Comac, says it has received orders from 21 customers for a total of 517 aircraft, mostly from Chinese carriers but also from GE Capital Aviation Services.

The Chinese company also plans a wide body plane, the C929, in cooperation with Russia’s United Aircraft Corp., and speculation is mounting China will create a new aero-engine entity to try to produce the powerful jets needed for large civil aircraft.

China is expected to add 6,330 new aircraft worth $950 billion to its commercial fleet by 2034, Boeing estimates.