China is aiming to get this plane into service by 2016. I believe this is way too ambitious of a goal, but they are trying to basically develop something in the class of A-320/B-737 before their replacements are available.
This week, I read the best collection of Chinese civilian aviation articles on Flight Global. I highly suggest you to check out the link, which contains several articles. They are basically a summary of what I've been reading all summer from different sources. A really complete one.
Basically, the headlines include:
- Unveiling of the C-919's head section at CAC and finishing initial design with maximum seating of 190, but standard arrangement of 168 seats
- They also have plan for C-929 with maximum seating of 290.
- First ARJ-21 completed a long distance test flight on 15 July 2009, flying from Shanghai to Xi'an in 2 hours 19 minutes, over a distance of 1,300 km. The second ARJ21 plane completed the same test flight from Shanghai to Xi'an on 24 August 2009.
- Announcement for the completion on the research of the aerospace engine for C-919 by 2016
- Assembling the first two A320 planes at the Tianjin plant, which is even more modern than the Hamburg plant. Additional work for Chinese suppliers on the Tianjin A320 planes.
- SAC delivering the C-Series test barrel to Bombardier as part of its involvement in the project, which includes delivering the entire fuselage, tail-cone structure and wingboxes
- SAC is also contracted for the fuselage and empennage of Bombardier's Q400 turboprop
- Establishing Harbin as the premier helicopter factory in China as well as the leading player in composite materials
As you can see, there are a lot of things going on with the Chinese civilian aviation industry right now. Despite the economic recession around the world, the Chinese suppliers are actually prospering at this time. Compared to the shipbuilding industry and even the automobile industry, it still has a long way to go before being able to compete, but they do seem to have a lot of ambitions with the announcement of the C-919 and engine research deadlines.