SHANGHAI (AP) -- Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China plans to build an assembly line for its homegrown C919 jetliners in Shanghai, the latest step in the country's ambitions to become a leader in world aviation.
The company announced the showcase project following a signing ceremony Wednesday with officials of Shanghai's Pudong district, where the plant will be located.
China is counting on the narrow-body, single-aisle C919, China's newest and biggest homegrown commercial jetliner, to compete against Western rivals in the high-stakes international aviation market.
Construction of the factory is to begin soon, with capacity to reach 20 C919s and 50 ARJ 21-series regional jets by 2016, the company, which is also known as COMAC, said in a statement.
Shanghai-based COMAC was set up in 2008 to develop and build passenger aircraft. The company also has research and development facilities in Pudong.
The C919 is due to make its maiden flight by 2014 and to begin deliveries to customers by 2016.
Earlier this week, General Electric's aviation unit teamed up with Aviation Industry Corp. of China, COMAC's state-run parent company, to develop and market electronic systems for commercial aircraft customers, including the C919 narrow-body aircraft.
GE is also supplying engines for the 70 to 110-seat ARJ-21 passenger jet, designed for the local market.
China's huge aviation market has continued to grow quickly, despite the world economic slump. Air passenger traffic rose nearly 20 percent in the first 10 months of the year from the year before, to 191.9 million, according to the country's Civil Aviation Administration.