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China opens airshow with big jet model, fighter jet flypasts

Reuters  |  ZHUHAI, China 

By and Stella Qiu

ZHUHAI, (Reuters) - on Tuesday kicked off its largest airshow with a display of its aviation ambitions, unveiling a life-size model of a long-haul jet it is developing with and showing off its stealth fighter jet in a roaring flight demonstration.

The biennial Airshow China, being held in the coastal city of from Nov. 6-11, is traditionally an event for to parade its growing aviation prowess. This time, however, it comes against the backdrop of a bruising Sino-U.S. trade war.

has become a key hunting ground for foreign aviation firms to do deals thanks to surging travel demand, but its trade relations with other countries have been tested by its ambitions to grow its own champions in industries such as aviation.

Among projects that fall into such a category is the widebody CR929 which is being jointly developed by of China and Russia's (UAC) and hopes to eventually compete with Boeing Co's 787 and SE's planes.

"Our programme is making progress and is on schedule," said UAC at a ceremony to unveil the model of the CR929's cockpit and passenger cabin at the airshow.

"It is currently in the preliminary design phase and we are also in the supplier and equipment selection phase, which will finish by the end of 2019."

Hundreds of spectators and industry executives at the airshow were also treated to a roaring flight demonstration that involved three of China's Chengdu stealth fighters, which debuted at the show two years ago with a 60-second flypast.

China put the into service last year that experts say is a part of Beijing's plan to narrow a military with the and its stealth fighter.

"We are going to see more of the J-20 this year and the message therefore is that this aircraft is in larger numbers in Chinese service," said veteran China watcher of


The mockup of the CR929 plane, which was 22 metres long, 6.5 metres tall and 5.9 metres wide, showed a roomy interior with 9-abreast basic seating in economy class.

The cockpit contained dummy instruments, with yet to be chosen, including a sidestick similar to the flying control favoured by over the traditional control column.

"It is more than Boeing," a executive said.

UAC and announced they would cooperate on a widebody jet program in 2014 and they started full-scale development of the program three years later by forming joint venture China-Commercial Aircraft International Corporation (CRAIC).

To date, they have already sought proposals for the plane's engine and landing gear.

executives, however, declined to comment on what current trade frictions with the could mean for their supplier selection.

"I'm not going to discuss this," said COMAC's for the CR929,

(Reporting by Brenda Goh, Stella and Tim Hepher; Writing by Brenda Goh; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, November 06 2018. 11:39 IST