China Tries To Break The Airbus-Boeing Duopoly, Slowly

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on August 07 2012 5:53 PM
An Air China plane comes in to land over the roof of the railway station at Beijing's internationl airport
An Air China plane comes in to land over the roof of the railway station at Beijing's internationl airport April 21, 2011. REUTERS

The Chinese government has taken an important step toward breaking duopoly of the Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and EADS N.V. (Paris: EAD)'s Airbus SAS in aerospace manufacturing by successfully testing a new regional plane, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

The ARJ21 Xiangfeng completed landing and take-off tests on a flooded runway on June 28, according to the FT, one of the final stages of testing. China is developing the new regional fliers through the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or Comac. It plans to popularize the plane and then move to narrow-body aircraft and eventually wide-body jets. The recent progress reverses years of delays.

“After 10 years, the development of the ARJ21 has entered its final stage. The last step is to complete the airworthiness tests and to obtain the airworthiness certification,” said He Dongfeng, Comac's president, in a statement to the FT. The group has also parterned with France's Safran Labinal and Canada's Bombardier for development and research, and has an agreement with Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. to build a widebody jet.

Comac has 280 orders for its planes, mostly from Chinese companies. That's a puny size compared to Boeing, which has been dominating Airbus this year in sales, poaching Asian customers from the European manufacturer. But officials say a new competitor could emerge from another country, including China.

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