ZHUHAI, CHINASelf-sufficiency is one of the key themes at China’s biggest air show, which opened in the southern city of Zhuhai on Tuesday after a pandemic-induced delay.

Among the exhibitors is Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac), the state-owned manufacturer of the C919 jetliner

China has spent tens of billions of dollars developing the C919 jet, which is designed to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

But the C919 has faced headwinds, with tough US export rules threatening to delay certification and early production and Comac struggling to secure some spare parts from US-linked suppliers.

However, on the sidelines of the Zhuhai Airshow, Comac said it was working to get the C919 certified by the end of the year as scheduled, and planned to start mass-producing the C919 around 2027-2029.

“We are working to ensure the orderly implementation of delivery and to complete all the certifications by the end of the year,” Comac chief designer and deputy general manager Wu Yongliang said.

Yang Yang, another Comac deputy general manager, said the company was doing test flights on six of its C919s and expected to scale up production from 2027. He also said tougher US export rules had not had a major effect on the company.

The company said China would account for 22 percent of the world’s passenger aircraft fleet by 2040, up from 20 percent in 2020.

It said 41,429 passenger jets worth US$6.2 trillion were expected to be delivered globally over the next 20 years.

Passenger demand was expected to rise by an average of 3.9 percent a year globally and 5.7 percent a year in China over the next 20 years, it added.

The Zhuhai Airshow, officially known as the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, is held every second year but was postponed in 2020 for almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday’s opening ceremony featured a fly-past by an AG600 seaplane and the PLA Air Force’s most advanced stealth fighter jet, the J-20.

The event was attended by Central Military Commission vice-chairman Xu Qiliang and newly promoted air force commander Ding Changqiu.

Chinese military and aerospace firms have been a stronger presence at the show, with limited overseas attendance due to strict quarantine rules.

Among the most highly anticipated display this year is the J-16D electronic warfare aircraft and the WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone.

The WZ-7, or “Guizhou Soar Dragon”, has an unusual tandem, joined-wing design and can be used for missions like border reconnaissance and maritime patrols.

Built by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, its 24-meter wingspan and 14-meter length make it one of the largest drones developed in the country.

Other aircraft on display include the Y-20 strategic transport plane, the H-6K long-range bomber, and the JL-10 trainer aircraft.
Via South China Morning Post