Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

China Seeks U.S., EU Deals Simplifying Approval for New Planes

  • Bilateral pacts mean China planes face less scrutiny: official
  • Airworthiness certification to help C919 enter global markets

China aims to reach new bilateral agreements on airworthiness with U.S. and European regulators by the end of 2017 to pave the way for its domestically produced aircraft such as the C919 to be flown in those markets.

The new accords targeted by China will be more reciprocal than existing ones and see the two foreign authorities granting greater recognition to Chinese certifications, Wang Jingling, deputy director general of plane airworthiness at the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said at a conference in Shanghai Thursday.

“Once included, aircraft already certified by the CAAC will face less scrutiny from authorities in the U.S. and EU in getting their certification,” Wang said. “That will make it easier for China’s homegrown planes to sell in these developed markets.”

State-backed Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd. is set in May to conduct the maiden flight of the nation’s first domestically produced large jet, C919, Wang said. The aircraft, whose first flight has been delayed more than a year, is a result of China’s ambitious goal to become an advanced manufacturing powerhouse and break into the passenger-jet market dominated by Airbus SE and Boeing Co. -- estimated to surpass $1 trillion in the nation within two decades.

The nation is seeking to gain the European Aviation Safety Agency’s approval for the C919 as part of negotiations under a China-E.U. air-safety agreement. EASA has been in the process of certifying the C919 since December, and officials have met twice with the CAAC and Comac, Wang said.

Regional Aircraft

The single-aisle C919 isn’t China’s first passenger jet. Comac previously developed a smaller regional jet, ARJ21, which competes with aircraft from Bombardier Inc. and Embraer SA.

Wang said the CAAC is also in talks with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to approve the ARJ121, and FAA officials have shadowed the Chinese regulator’s processes to certify the aircraft.

The ARJ21 was about a decade behind schedule, and took six years to go from first flight to commercial operation.

“The ARJ21 has provided a lesson for the C919,” Comac President He Dongfeng told Bloomberg News at the conference. The C919 will “definitely” go to the market faster, he said.

— With assistance by Dong Lyu

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