BEIJING (Agencies): China’s domestically produced C919 passenger jet made its international debut at the Singapore Airshow, marking its first flight outside of China. The C919, which had its maiden commercial flight in May, has until now only been permitted to fly within China.

The single-aisle jet is manufactured by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac). It is poised to become a new contender in the commercial aviation market, currently dominated by Boeing and Airbus. Comac announced at the airshow that it had secured a deal with Tibet Airlines and confirmed an order for 40 of these narrow-body jets, designed to carry up to 192 passengers and cover a distance of up to 5,644km (3,500 miles).

Christian Scherer, CEO of Airbus’s commercial aircraft business, commented that the C919 is “not very different” from what Airbus and Boeing currently offer. He added that it is “not going to rock the boat in particular,” but recognized the C919 as a “legitimate effort” by China, noting that “the market is large enough for competition.”

Industry experts, as reported by CNBC, suggest that the issues faced by Boeing, particularly with the 737 Max, could provide an early advantage for Comac. Boeing, the US aerospace giant, is not showcasing any commercial aircraft at the show due to the ongoing repercussions of a mid-flight incident involving a 737 Max 9 aircraft in January.

The C919 aircraft program was approved by Beijing 16 years ago but encountered numerous regulatory and technical challenges, including US export controls. Despite being assembled in China, the plane relies heavily on Western components, such as flight controls and jet engines. Notably, the C919 uses the same engine as the Airbus A320neo narrow-body passenger jet.

The production of the aircraft commenced in 2011, and the first prototype was completed in 2015. The C919 was certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of China in September 2022 and began commercial service with China Eastern Airlines the following year.

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