Aviation leasing market hits new heights

By ZHU WENQIAN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-12-08 08:16
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A C919 leaves the assembly plant in Shanghai in November 2017. YIN LIQIN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Chinese companies set hot pace in seizing global opportunities

The C919, China's first domestically developed narrow-body passenger jet, netted 300 new orders in November, with the first such aircraft due to be delivered this month.

The model is expected to further drive the integrated growth of the nation's aircraft manufacturing industry.

The new orders were placed by seven domestic aircraft leasing companies that signed agreements with Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, or COMAC, manufacturer of the C919, during the 14th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, last month.

As the number of air travelers rises worldwide — growing especially fast in China — the C919 is expected to help meet such demand. To date, 1,115 orders have been placed for the C919 in China and overseas.

Comparable to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing B737 series, the C919 has 158 to 168 seats and a flying range of 4,075 to 5,555 kilometers. It is the first single-aisle aircraft for which the nation owns independent intellectual property rights, and the tag "Made in China "will soon be applied for large-scale passenger jets.

In constructing the C919, COMAC has played an important role in the Made in China 2025 strategy, which aims to advance the nation's industrial manufacturing capabilities. The C919 is expected to break the market duopoly of Boeing and Airbus and help accelerate the aviation industry in China.

Wang Yanan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said: "Mass production of the C919 will help the Chinese aviation industry to be involved in the world's supply chain for large aircraft, and China will be able to acquire valuable experience. Still, the industry needs to take note of the comments from carriers, passengers, maintenance engineers and the market."

On Nov 29, the C919 received its production certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, or CAAC, in Shanghai, indicating that the aircraft can be put into mass production based on an approved quality control system.

Two months earlier, the plane received its type certificate, which grants design approval. The C919 also needs to be given its final airworthiness certificate — a permit for the commercial operation of passenger flights.

The first C919 is expected to be delivered to China Eastern Airlines this month. The airline said it plans to put the plane into commercial operation in the first half of next year, after meeting CAAC's requirements. Other C919s bought by China Eastern are expected to be delivered in the next year, the carrier said late last month.

To operate overseas, the C919 will also require airworthiness certificates from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.

Guo Yuqiang, deputy general manager of Zhongyuan Aviation Financial Leasing Co, which is based in Zhengzhou, Henan province, said: "It typically takes several years from signing purchase orders to final deliveries of the aircraft. After such a period, the domestic air travel market is expected to be experiencing less impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There are high expectations for the C919, which is poised to go global. This is a good opportunity for Chinese leasing companies to buy this model to add to their assets."

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