Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) has confirmed that its wants service entry of its C919 large commercial aircraft in 2016 and that its first flight will be in 2014.

Comac assistant general manager Wang Wenbin told delegates at the Asian Aerospace Congress that the first flight will be in 2014 and service entry will be after the C919 gets Chinese certification in 2016.

There will be two variants - a standard model with a range of 4,075km (2,200nm) range and a long-range model able to fly 5,555km, says Wang.

The C919 will seat 168 passengers in all-economy class or 156 in a mixed-class configuration.

Suppliers will be selected through "market-orientated ways and through a bidding process", he says.

"We encourage foreign and local suppliers and many foreign suppliers have already started business co-operation with our company" in terms of "technology exchanges and negotiations".

Major engine-makers including CFM International, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney are bidding to power the C919.

Goodrich, meanwhile, has formed a joint venture with Xian Aircraft in China in an effort to supply the C919's landing gear and Honeywell, which provides flight control systems for Chinese commercial aircraft, has held talks with Comac.

Wang says the C919 is an important national project because it will help make China "an innovative country and help promote science and technology".

Russia and Japan are also aiming to advance their aviation industries by developing aircraft, he adds.

Besides the C919, Comac is building the ARJ21-700, a 90-seat regional aircraft.

Wang says the first customer delivery will be in late 2010 and so far Comac has orders for 208 ARJ21-700s.

China's Kunpeng Airlines will be the launch operator of the ARJ21-700 and the Laos government has signed a non-binding agreement to order two ARJ21s, making Lao Airlines the first overseas customer.

So far there are no orders for the C919.

The C919 is the first large commercial aircraft China has developed since the 1970s, but it has decades of experience building commercial regional aircraft as well as different types of military aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News