Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) has taken a major step forward in development of its large commercial aircraft, which will be called the Comac 919.

Industry sources in China familiar with the programme say Comac has named the aircraft the 919 and it is aiming to have the first example ready for roll-out in 2014, first flight in late 2014 and entry into service in 2016.

They say Comac has issued a request for information to engine-makers and some of the firms competing for the business include Shanghai-based AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine (ACAE) as well as GE and Pratt & Whitney.

AVIC announced in November that it would be establishing an engine company in Shanghai focused on building engines for Comac's new large commercial aircraft.

A source at AVIC says ACAE is headed by Zhang Jian and management wants to work with western engine-makers but retain intellectual property rights.

Comac's move to have the 919's entry into service in 2016 is four years earlier than originally planned.

When China's State Council decided in February 2007 that the country would develop a large commercial aircraft, it announced that entry into service would be 2020.

Industry sources in China say the programme has been brought forward partly because China wants to ensure it gets its aircraft to market before Airbus and Boeing have a chance to produce new types to replace the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.

At November's Zhuhai Airshow Comac's president, Zhang Qingwei, said the aircraft would seat 130-200 passengers.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news