Boarding begins in 2019, maybe
SINCE the 1990s the global market for full-sized commercial airliners has been a duopoly. The market, which by some estimates will be worth $4.6 trillion over the next 20 years, is dominated by Airbus, a European firm, and Boeing, its American competitor. But in theory, at least, airlines will soon have a wider choice of planes. On November 2nd COMAC, a Chinese state-owned planemaker, revealed its C919 plane (pictured, next page), a competitor to Airbus’s A320 and Boeing’s 737, the two most popular airliners in the skies. COMAC says the C919 will have its maiden flight next year—two years later than first scheduled—and enter service around 2019.
The Chinese are not the only ones who think they can break the duopoly. After several delays, Irkut, part of Russia’s state-owned United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), hopes to launch its MC-21 aircraft, another potential rival to the 737 and A320, into service in 2017.
Many aviation analysts remain sceptical about whether these rivals, even with generous state backing, will ever put a significant dent in the bulging order books of…Continue reading