June 16--Boeing says that China is on course to become the third-biggest commercial aircraft maker and predicts the total number worldwide will double over the next 20 years.
Speaking on the eve of the Paris airshow, Boeing chairman and chief executive Jim McNerney predicted there will be demand for 35,000 new commercial aircraft in the next two decades.
He said China was likely to become the world's third major commercial aircraft maker, after Boeing and Airbus.
"I think Comac [China's national aircraft maker] and the Chinese have the best chance to become a competitor to Airbus and Boeing, first in the narrow-body area and perhaps even longer term with larger aeroplanes," he said.
"They have all the ingredients. They have a big market. They have technology coming out of defence. They have financial resources. And they are clearly commercially adroit."
McNerney also said Boeing had emerged stronger from its issues with the 787 Dreamliner, which was grounded earlier this year after its lithium-ion battery, used for back-up power, repeatedly overheated and even caught fire.
The aircraft has now been cleared to fly again but the reason for the problem has still not been discovered.
McNerney said: "We have a good idea of one or two things that it could have been. Quite frankly our solution is more robust because we weren't focused on one thing.
"The data tells us our brand has emerged stronger for having gone through it in the right way."
Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration were called to report to US Congress last week, which was concerned about the FAA's certification process for the Dreamliner.
McNerney said Boeing planned to launch its latest twin-engined, wide-body 777X by 2019 at the earliest. Airbus saw its rival, the A350, fly for the first time last week and it plans a stretch version for 2017 to challenge the 777's dominance.
Copyright 2013 - Financial Mail on Sunday, London