SHANGHAI, May 21 (Reuters) - Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd and JSC United Aircraft Corporation are considering jointly developing advanced wide-body jets, a move that could help the Chinese planemaker compete with Boeing Co and Airbus.
In an initial deal signed ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing China visit, COMAC and JSC agreed to conduct a feasibility study on the project, COMAC chief accountant Tian Min told reporters in Shanghai on Wednesday.
“The two sides are still in the feasibility study. There is no time table yet,” Tian said.
He declined to provide any details on the next-generation jets.
COMAC, founded in 2008, is tasked with assembling the narrow-body C919 to compete with Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 family of aircraft.
But repeated delays, due largely to COMAC’s lack of experience, have pushed back the first delivery to 2017 or 2018, several years after the upgraded and re-engined A320new and Boeing 737 Max are scheduled to enter the market.
The joint project with Russia could give China a chance to compete in the wide-body segment now dominated by Airbus and Boeing, industry officials say.
So far, COMAC has got 400 orders for its C919, mostly from Chinese airlines and leasing companies backed by China’s state-owned lenders, according to Tian.
Reporting by Lin Qi and Matthew Miller in Shanghai; Writing by Fang Yan in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Coates