The Chinese media have been predicting that the future of the world's civil aviation sector will be dominated by the ABCs - A for Airbus, B for Boeing and C for COMAC.
A scale model of the Chinese-made C919 passenger airliner on display at Airshow China
Although China has already sent men into space, until very recently it had not yet developed a jet capable of transporting large numbers of passengers in Chinese airspace. China is now on the brink of revolutionizing the global plane industry.
China is already the second largest aviation market after the US. Analysts believe it will become number one within 20 years.
This week, at Airshow China in Zhuhai, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) announced it had received its first 100 orders for its C919.
A prototype of the commercial aircraft is currently on display at the air show in the southern coastal city and has been attracting great attention.
The C919 is "cost-effective, comfortable and environment-friendly"
Among the buyers of the C919 are not only four domestic airlines – Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Hainan Airlines – but also a US leasing company that belongs to General Electrics.
4,000 new aircraft needed to meet growing demand
The aircraft, which has 190 seats, is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2014 but the first deliveries will only begin in 2016. It has reportedly been developed to meet the huge demand of the fast-growing domestic market.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the country will need over 4,000 new civil aircraft to meet growing demand over the coming two decades.
COMAC predicts that the sector will be worth more than 450 billion dollars by 2030.
Dang Tiehong, marketing research director at COMAC, is excited about the prospects: "As the center of the global economy is shifting, Asia’s emerging markets, especially China, are going to be the main driving force for growth in the aviation sector.
"According to our forecast, the passenger load for Asia will be 37 percent worldwide in 2029. The annual passenger growth rate in mature markets, such as North America and Europe, is going to be relatively small."
Airbus opened its first non-European factory in Tianjin
C919 will compete with Airbus A320 and Boeing 737
So far, the dominant suppliers in China have been the European Airbus and the US-based Boeing. Airbus opened its first assembly plant outside of Europe in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin in 2007 and has already put together nearly 30 aircraft there.
Just at the beginning of this month, China bought 102 new Airbus planes when President Hu Jintao visited France.
Observers think the Chinese-made C919 will be a potential competitor to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737 models in the not too distant future.
An anonymous spokesman at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France told Deutsche Welle his company declined to comment on its competitors.
But he did say Airbus had constantly improved and "speeded up" its technologies and remarked that its standards could not be reached overnight. However, he also admitted that China was developing very fast in this sector.
Author: Miao Tian
Editor: Anne Thomas