Boeing's marketing chief says that China's planned drive into the mainline airliner market with the Comac C919 twinjet represents the most significant "third" competitor the airframer has faced since the market became a duopoly in 1997 when McDonnell Douglas was taken over.

China's plans for the 160-seat CFM International Leap X-powered twinjet are gradually gathering momentum, as Comac works towards a service-entry target of 2016. The aircraft's size pitches it directly against Airbus and Boeing's single-aisle families, and it will be sold into the world's fastest growing airline market - China.

"Probably since Long Beach went away, the C919 is the most direct competitor we've seen," says vice-president marketing Randy Tinseth, referring to McDonnell Douglas's MD-80 production plant which became part of Boeing after the merger in 1997.

Comac C919
 © Tim Bicheno-Brown/Flightglobal

"When we look at the first 10 years of the 20-year market forecast, we do recognise that there will be capabilities provided by the C919 and Bombardier's CSeries, and we look at those things as either opportunities or constraints in the forecast," says Tinseth.

He says that Boeing aims to tackle the C919 threat in China's domestic market by "continuing to innovate, providing customers with the best possible value, and continuing to improve the build process and bring costs down".

The fact that Airbus has a Chinese A320 assembly joint venture, which will eventually produce four aircraft a month in Tianjin, should not give its rival an advantage when selling into the market, says Tinseth: "We've built airplanes in China in the past and [now] we've chosen a different path."

The US airframer has a number of Chinese joint ventures including composite manufacturing, modification shop and maintenance, he says. "No one buys more parts and assemblies from China than Boeing."

Source: Flight Daily News