China's biggest air show could take off again without C919 narrowbody jet

BEIJING/SYDNEY (Reuters) - China will show off its homegrown civil and military aviation technology at the country's biggest air show in November, the mayor of host city Zhuhai said on Tuesday, though there was no confirmation that would include the C919 narrowbody jet.

The C919, made by Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) and designed to rival single-aisle jets made by Airbus SE and Boeing Co, is close to certification but has never been displayed or flown at previous editions of Airshow China.

The normally biennial show will be held from Nov. 8 to 13, with 740 businesses expected to take part offline and online, organisers said at a media conference in Beijing, up from 700 in 2021 when it held a show meant to take place in 2020 that was delayed because of the pandemic.

This year's show will include participants from 43 countries and regions, up from 40 a year ago, according to the organisers. China requires international travellers to quarantine for a week on arrival.

On the military side, as China steps up its presence in the Taiwan Strait, its first large-scale stealth long-endurance drone, Rainbow-7, will be among the items on display.

On the civil side, foreign companies including Airbus, Boeing and General Electric Co will attend alongside Chinese companies, Zhuhai mayor Huang Zhihao told reporters.

Western suppliers are behind some of the key technology in the C919, including the avionics and engines.

Two C919 jets arrived in Beijing on Sept. 13, in a move widely viewed as preparation for certification by the aviation regulator on Sept. 19, a symbolic date given the model number.

But that did not happen and the two jets remain parked in Beijing, according to flight tracking websites.

COMAC did not immediately reply to an email from Reuters seeking comment.

Herman Tse, valuations manager at Ascend by Cirium, said the approval was simply a matter of time.

"The local airlines will certainly support the China-built aircraft and grow the aircraft market share in the homeland gradually," Tse said in a website post last week.

(Reporting by Sophie Yu in Beijing and Jamie Freed in Sydney; editing by Jason Neely)