Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 11:01 UK

China unveils its largest plane

Model of the C919 plane
The state-owned firm unveiled the C919, which will have its maiden flight in 2014

China has unveiled the design of what will be its largest locally-made commercial aircraft.

The jet, a single-aisle C919 with up to 190 seats, will only be ready for test flights in 2014 and delivery in 2016.

But it is another step towards China's long-term goal of producing more products for domestic use rather than being the manufacturer for the world.

China has become the world's second-largest market - and fastest growing - for commercial aircraft.

'Superpowers'

The plane is made by Comac, a unit of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China.

"It's the first time that China has put a face in front of the global aviation industry," said Richard Thiele, who works for the organiser of the air show in Hong Kong where the C919 debuted.

China has been the focus of much attention from the two dominant players of aerospace - Europe's Airbus and Boeing of the US.

Airbus is the first of the world's big two aircraft-makers to have a full production facility in the country, and recently delivered its first Chinese-made plane.

"We still have a long way to go in comparison with those aviation industry 'superpowers' such as the USA," said Wang Wenbin, Comac's assistant general manager.

Test flight

Mr Wang said the C919 "will set a landmark for the overall modernisation" of China, which has previously focused more on military aviation rather than commercial aircraft.

The Chinese planemaker has made great strides since it was set up in May 2008.

In November, China successfully flight tested its first home-grown commercial airliner, the ARJ-21.

Mr Wang said the company has received 208 confirmed and unconfirmed orders for the 90-seat ARJ-21, which Comac also manufactures.

Studies have suggested that demand for new planes from Chinese airlines will increase fivefold over the next 20 years, requiring over 2,000 additional aircraft.



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