China, Russia take step closer to new long-haul jet
By Brenda Goh
ZHUHAI, China (Reuters) - China and Russia took a step closer on Wednesday to the joint development of a long-haul jet to challenge Boeing BA.N and Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote), displaying a model of the unnamed plane that would compete with Western rivals.
State-owned planemakers Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) [CMAFC.UL] and United Aircraft Corp (UAC) of Russia said they had started the hunt to find suppliers, as they presented a mock-up of the wide-body jet at Airshow China.
Neither firm gave details on financing or technical specifications for what Western analysts call a politically-driven initiative that will be difficult to pull off and is likely to carry a high price tag.
China opened the show on Tuesday in the southern city of Zhuhai with a brief flypast of its J-20 stealth fighter, in a demonstration of military clout.
Both countries are currently developing smaller narrow-body jets to compete with the best-selling Airbus and Boeing types.
Guo Bozhi, general manager of COMAC's widebody department, said a 50-50 joint venture based in Shanghai will start operations this year.
First announced in 2014, the project has so far been slow to materialize. The firms have said they want conduct a maiden flight in 2022 and begin deliveries in 2025 or later.
Western industry analysts consider the target challenging, but more realistic than recent aircraft programs that sought results in 5-7 years and came in late. Continued...