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China's 1st large passenger jet ready in 8 years

BEIJING -- China's first large passenger jet will take off in about eight years and will be named C919, state media reported Saturday.

China is keen to cooperate with foreigners on the project, which is meant to rival Airbus and Boeing, Xinhua news agency said, citing the plane's chief designer Wu Guanghui.

“C (in C919) represents China as well as COMAC, the abbreviation for Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China,” said Wu, according to Xinhua. The first 9 in C919 was chosen because in Chinese the number sounds like a word that means “long time,” while 19 reflects the fact that China's first large aircraft will have 190 seats, he said.

COMAC was set up in May last year, charged with developing a large aircraft that one day can compete with planes from Airbus and Boeing. Wu said that the company will choose suppliers of engines, equipment, and materials through international bidding, and will encourage foreign suppliers to enter into partnership with Chinese manufacturers.

“We will choose foreign-manufactured products like engines at the beginning phase, but we will also independently do research and manufacturing work at the same time,” he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Robust growth in China's aviation market in recent years has given rise to predictions that the nation will need more than 3,000 new aircraft in the coming two decades.

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