The manufacturer of China's first homegrown passenger jet is targeting Southeast Asian customers in an attempt to expand its customer base outside of the world's second-largest economy.
The Commercial Aircraft Corp of China — or Comac for short — hopes to one day rival Boeing and Airbus with its passenger jets, which include the narrow-body C919 plane and regional jetliner ARJ21. The state-owned firm has secured more than 700 orders for the 168-seat C919, which flew for the first time in May. The ARJ21, operating for more than a year, has seen more than 400 orders.
But the majority of customers remain Chinese leasing companies and Chinese airlines.
However, no deals are expected during the week-long aviation event, Lu noted. Africa, Middle Asia and West Asia will be the company's next regions of focus, followed by Europe and Japan, he continued: "We are going step by step."
The C919's first delivery — to China Eastern Airlines— is scheduled for 2021, Lu said, adding that China's certification process takes three to four years.
The C919 is a symbol of Beijing's aerospace ambitions but international concerns about the craft's reliability are rampant. That's where a recent bilateral aviation agreement between Washington and Beijing could help. In October last year, the world's two largest economies signed a pact that recognized each other's safety standards and regulatory systems for aviation products.
Comac has also developed a wide-body commercial jet known as the C929 with Russia.