ZHUHAI, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Fifty orders for C919 aircraft have been signed at the ongoing China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, indicating that China's first domestic large passenger aircraft is expanding its market reach amid tough overseas competition.
The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (COMAC), the aircraft's manufacturer, inked deals on Tuesday with a GE subsidiary and two Chinese companies at the aviation show, according to COMAC general manager He Dongfeng.
The exhibition is scheduled to run from Nov. 13 to 18 in the city of Zhuhai in south China's Guangdong Province
He said GE Capital Aviation Service (GECAS) will purchase 10 of the planes, while two local airline operators, Hebei Airlines and Joy Air, will buy 20 units each.
The company has thus far secured orders for 380 C919 aircraft from 15 customers, He said.
COMAC also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Eastern Air Lines for future sales of the aircraft to the U.S. airline, according to He.
"The signing of the new orders and MOU indicates that the C919 has once again won recognition in both domestic and overseas markets," He said.
Mark Hutchinson, president and chief executive officer of GE China, said he was excited about the deal, as GE is heavily involved in the manufacturing of the C919 as an engine and avionics supplier.
"We signed the contract to demonstrate our support for the COMAC," Hutchinson said, adding that the C919 aircraft will supplement the company's fleet of about 2,000 aircraft.
Wu Guanghui, chief designer of the C919, said future global and domestic markets will have a strong appetite for civil aircraft like the C919.
Also on Tuesday, Liebherr-Aerospace & Transportation SAS and a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) inaugurated a joint venture that will supply undercarriages for the C919.
Francis Niss, president of Liebherr-Aerospace, said China's large population has given it dynamic growth in the global air traffic market.
"The Chinese industry is already part of the global supply chain of Western aircraft manufacturers. With the C919, China has reached another milestone in its development to become one of the leading aerospace nations in the world," Niss said.
He said Liebherr-Aerospace hopes to play an important role in the further development of China's aerospace industry.
With the C919 program, Niss said Liebherr-Aerospace has built a strong base for long-lasting participation in the Chinese market.
COMAC said the C919 aircraft will hit the market in 2016 after tests are completed in 2014.
Although the aircraft market remains dominated by Western companies in Europe and the United States, industry observers say the C919 will compete with the Boeing and Airbus in the medium-range aircraft sector.
COMAC vice president Shi Jianzhong said the participation of the company in the manufacturing of civil aircraft will provide more choices for the world's airlines.
"The newly designed C919 aircraft will undoubtedly help to upgrade the civil aircraft market," Shi said.
"We are sure that the C919 will be developed in a very professional way in order to meet all the expectations and targets of the Chinese government and COMAC," Niss said.