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China’s first big homemade pax-jet to fly this year

February 9, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

If you fly anywhere in a large passenger jet, the chances are very high that the plane you are sitting in will be made either by Airbus of Europe or by Boeing of the US – but perhaps not for much longer.

Canadian, Russian and Brazilian challengers are out there, and the C919, China’s first large homemade passenger jetliner, is set to make its maiden flight in a month or two. The maiden flight will happen in the first half of this year, Chinese state media has confirmed.

China’s state-owned, Shanghai-based aircraft maker Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd, or Comac, has almost finished work on the 175-passenger C919, according to the People’s Daily newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.

Model of Comac C919 on show at the Singapore Air Show in 2010


Originally due to fly in 2015, the C919 hit delays blamed on manufacturing problems.

The C919 forms part of China’s long-term goal to break Airbus and Boeing’s duopoly. It has been designed to compete against the likes of the Airbus A320neo, the Boeing 737 MAX, Canada’s Bombardier CSeries, Russia’s Irkut MC-21, and other next-generation single-aisle airliners.

According to Wikipedia: “In June 2011 COMAC and Irish low-cost airline Ryanair signed an agreement to co-operate on the development of the C919.”

Design and assembly of the aircraft is done in Shanghai, using foreign-made jet engines and avionics, though a domestically made engine is planned. The C919 currently has 517 orders.

Its dimensions resemble the Airbus A320, possibly to allow for a common pallet to be used. According to a film shown by Comac at the 2010 Zhuhai Airshow, the company plans to build six different models of the aircraft: a base passenger aircraft with 168 seats, as well as stretched and shrunk passenger versions, business jet and freighter models, and a type designated only as “special”.

Wikipedia again: “Some experts believe the C919 will not be competitive either technologically or commercially when it enters service given the plane’s strong dependence on foreign suppliers.”

China itself is a huge market for aircraft. If US President Donald Trump goes ahead and slaps tariffs on Chinese imports, as he has threatened, China could retaliate and place tariffs on Boeing, potentially making the C919 very competitive – in China at least.

Around the world, Airbus and Boeing estimate the market for new aircraft over the next 20 years will be worth in excess of USD 5 trillion.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    China does not have an illustrious record with their own aircraft. They gave a 60-seat Xian M60 to Tonga for airline use but the govt of NZ thought the aircraft so unsafe that they cut Tongan aid until they withdrew the aircraft. Another jet made by Comac, the 70-95 seat ARJ21 took its first flight in 2008 but the first one wasn’t delivered to an airline until 2015 and it appears that only two out of 300 orders has been delivered, with none actually in airline service. Like most things built in China, they will no doubt end up building excellent aircraft far cheaper than Boeing or Airbus but they’ll need to do a lot of reliability proving before I’d be buying a seat on one.

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