FARNBOROUGH: Comac hopes for IAG order of new narrowbody

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Comac has detailed the areas of co-operation it intends to pursue with International Airlines Group on its C919 narrowbody under a memorandum of understanding signed today at the Farnborough air show.

Under the deal, the Chinese airframer will exchange information with IAG concerning the narrowbody "on a regular basis", and incorporate the airline's suggestions into the aircraft's development, says Comac.

A joint working programme has also been proposed to co-operate in areas such as technological and operational requirements, standardisation, financing and customer and product services.

The agreement also means that IAG - parent of British Airways and Iberia - will consider the CFM International Leap-1C-powered C919 for its "potential sub-fleet".

"Comac is proving to be a new alternative for IAG to secure the right aircraft at the right price," says IAG's chief executive Willie Walsh.

He adds that is "still too early" to say what number of C919s the carrier could order, but that it is "carefully examining" the aircraft.

"The co-operation with IAG is a very important step in helping Comac open up the international market for the C919," says Comac's chief finance officer Tian Min. Last year budget carrier Ryanair agreed to co-operate with Comac on the type's development.

The C919 programme has now entered the engineering development phase, after completing a feasibility study and pre-development, says Comac. Detailed design work is being carried out, with manufacturing drawings to be released step-by-step and trial manufacturing to be conducted.

The C919 is scheduled to make its first flight in 2014, followed by certification and first delivery in 2016.