After several years of delays, China’s home-grown answer to the narrow body jet market duopoly enjoyed by the Boeing Co. and Airbus is expected to fly for the first time in 2017.
According to a report from Reuters, China’s state media says the C919 has completed most major tests and is expected to make its maiden voyage in the first half of the year.
The C919 jetliner, built by the government-backed Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) is a single-aisle passenger aircraft built to compete in the lucrative narrow body market with Boeing’s (NYSE: BA) 737 and Airbus’ A320 lines.
The jet was publicly unveiled during a roll-out ceremony in November 2015.
Comac has previously said it has 570 orders for the aircraft from 23 customers.
But Comac is eyeing a much larger share of the market, forecasting more than 2,000 sales of the new aircraft over the next 20 years.
That would cut into the market share not just of Boeing and Airbus, but one of those companies’ primary suppliers — Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems Inc.
Narrow body work drives much of the revenue at Spirit, with Boeing’s 737 being its single largest program.
Spirit and its local supply base build about 70 percent of every 737 that Boeing deliveries.
The company also has work on Airbus’ A320, building wing components for that narrow body aircraft at its plant in Prestwick, Scotland.