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Jun 17-23, 2019: Newcomers challenge half of Airbus-Boeing duopoly at 53rd Paris Air Show

FRANCE - China, Russia and Japan planned to take on the long-established aerospace duopoly of Airbus and Boeing at the International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, but only the European manufacturer will be offering strong competition. Recent crashes of Boeing’s 737 MAX have set back the U.S. aerospace giant, and it is mired in a painful investigation of the disasters.

The crashes, one in the Java Sea near Indonesia on Oct 29 and the other in Ethiopia on Mar 10 killed a total of 346 people. The preliminary investigations reveals problems with the 737 MAX that have damaged confidence in all Boeing models.

Airbus appears to be reaping the benefits: Bloomberg reports that the company secured a US $35 Billion 300-plane order in April from China in a blow to Boeing.

A Sino-Russian newcomer, the CRAIC CR929, won’t be ready for the daily flying displays at the show, which are a main draw for trade and public buyers, but a full-scale mock-up might be available for viewing. CRAIC (China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation) was set up specifically to develop an aircraft capable of breaking up Airbus’ and Boeing’s duopoly in the wide-body airliner market. Visitors to the 2018 Zuhai Air Show saw a mock-up of the plane, which is about a decade from roll-out.

Business Insider reports that the market for commercial jetliners is the most lucrative and arguably the most hotly contested segment in the aviation business. For the past 15 years, however, that white-hot competition has almost exclusively been between Airbus and Boeing.

Russia’s attempt to break into the lucrative segment is the new MS-21. Reuters describes it as the country’s first post-Soviet foray into production of a mainline commercial aircraft that it hopes will rival those of its Western competitors. It completed its first flight in May 2017.

China’s contender is its new 168-seat C919 passenger jet, which is designed to go head-to-head with the Airbus 320neo and the now beleaguered Boeing 737 MAX. The flight testing of the latest prototypes is under way. Its maker, COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) was founded in 2008 to design and produce indigenous airplanes for the country’s burgeoning airline industry.

The Mitsubishi MRJ is Japan’s first native commercial airliner in 50 years. Although the MRJ variants are much smaller any of the offerings from Airbus or Boeing, the plane represents a domestic alternative for a country whose airlines have long been one of Boeing’s most loyal customers.

In 2015 the show set an attendance record of 351,000 people from the aerospace business and the general public. In 2017 attendance dipped to 322,000.


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