The Strategist

The First Homegrown Chinese Jet

11/02/2015 - 13:39

Commercial Aircraft Corp. (Comac) has introduced C919 aircraft - the first Chinese commercial airliner, able to operate flights on the middle distance. The manufacturer expects the machine will be able to compete with Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. The company has already received orders from 21client to supply 517 aircraft.

Comac ARJ21 Xiangfeng,  twin-engined regional jet, manufactured by Comac.  Dura-Ace via flickr
Comac ARJ21 Xiangfeng, twin-engined regional jet, manufactured by Comac. Dura-Ace via flickr
Chinese state aerospace company Commercial Aircraft Corp. (Comac) presented airliner C919 on Monday. This is the first passenger aircraft produced in China, and capable of performing middle-distance flights.

China is the largest aviation market in the world, but so far, all flight connection in the country has been provided through import of foreign aircrafts. The Chinese authorities have tried to create their own aircraft since the 1970s, and they succeeded in September 1980, when Shanghai Y-10, produced by Shanghai Aircraft Research Institute made its first flight. However, the project was cut after a while because of its high cost, greatly outdated design and, as a consequence, lack of orders for production. There were just three Y-10 released.

C919 will have to rival with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. Comac has already received 21 orders for the supply of 517 aircrafts. Most of the orders were received from Chinese airlines, although there is a trickle of foreigners among the clients, too (i.e. GE Capital Aviation). The first C919 is expected to be delivered to customers until 2019. First test flight is scheduled for the first quarter of 2016.

- Rivalry with Boeing and Airbus is the ideal scenario, but we need time - told Zhang Shuguang, a civil aviation expert from Beijing’s Beihang University, to The Guardian newspaper. Building a large aircraft - this is a huge project. We need to have patience and trust. Progress will not be easy.

C919 is a narrow-body commercial airliner, capable of performing flights of short and medium range. The salon, calculated only on economy class, provides 168 seats. Maximum range of the aircraft’s basic version is 4075 km, and its increased modification can cover distances of up to 5.5 th. km.

Recall that  October 29, the Chinese authorities signed an agreement with Airbus during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Beijing. Earlier, in late September during Xi Jinping visit to the United States, China signed an agreement with the main Airbus’ competitor - American company Boeing. China ordered 300 Boeing planes, valued at $ 38 billion. Chinese air transport market is rapidly growing, what is significantly tightening competition between the two largest aircraft manufacturers.
According to the International Air Transport Association, by 2034, every fifth air passenger will be fly to China, from China or within the country. These flights already represent 10% of the world traffic, with 70 th. per week. The research organization CAPA Centre for Aviation believe that by 2020, China will host 13 air carriers with a fleet of over 100 aircraft versus 6 air companies in November 2014. Even now, the largest Asian airline is China Southern Airlines with a fleet of 400 aircraft.