Comac’s C919 single-aisle jet is poised to make its international air show debut in Singapore next month, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Chinese planemaker seeks to capitalize on Boeing Co.’s woes and a production backlog at Airbus SE.
Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd., as it’s formally known, will conduct a flying display and exhibit its homegrown jet amid a push to broaden prospective sales beyond Asia’s biggest economy, the people said, declining to be identified because the information isn’t public. Singapore’s biannual air show runs from Feb. 20-25.
For China, the timing of the upcoming display by Comac couldn’t be more fortuitous for China’s ambitions to join the ranks of global aircraft manufacturers. Boeing is facing intense scrutiny over its single-aisle 737 Max jets in the wake of a plug door blowout on a brand new Max 9 jet flown by Alaska Airlines earlier this month. U.S. aviation regulators ordered Boeing late Wednesday to halt further production-rate increases for its 737 Max aircraft.
In light of Boeing’s quality issues, the U.S. planemaker isn’t planning to send any of its commercial aircraft for display in Singapore, other people said.
A representative for Boeing didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Comac also didn’t respond to a request for comment. Organizers for the Singapore air show didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Comac has already dabbled sending its planes outside of mainland China, in December flying its only two models of jet—the C919 and smaller ARJ21—to Hong Kong. The ARJ21 will also be present at the Singapore air show.
Hong Kong Airlines, backed by HNA Group, was among airlines to tour the C919 extensively in Hong Kong. The carrier said Thursday it was “closely monitoring the progress of the C919 and assessing its potential benefits to our fleet and suitability for our operations.”
While the C919 isn’t certified by any major regulators like the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration or its European counterpart, meaning it can’t fly to most places outside of China, test planes that lack such permits can still operate demonstration flights.
Boeing has traditionally sent its flagship commercial jets to air shows and a couple of years ago began sending its soon-to-be-produced 777-9 long-range wide-body jet to such events. U.S. Department of Defense-operated Boeing planes are still expected to appear at the Singapore air show.