Who the first customer could be is anyone’s guess, and Comac has been tight-lipped thus far on the C919. Aside from official statements marking certain milestones in the programme, the company has made little or no comment about the aircraft.
Skeptics of the programme have said that the C919′s first customer would be one of the smaller domestic airlines. although I hesitate at drawing such a conclusion so quickly. The Chinese government has thrown its full support behind the country’s first large passenger aircraft, and is believed to be urging Chinese carriers to purchase the C919.
Sharing the limelight at Zhuhai will be Comac’s other in-development aircraft, the ARJ21 regional jet, which is set to make its airshow flight display debut. Test aircraft 104, one of the four in the test fleet, has already arrived at Zhuhai. Comac is expected to announce more orders for the ARJ21, even as sources say first delivery has been delayed until the third quarter of 2011 at the earliest.
So who will purchase the C919 and ARJ21 at Zhuhai? Watch this space. In the meantime, take a look at our preview of the show in this week’s Flight International.