C919 - Problems
China's previous failed attempts to copy the Boeing B707 during the 1970s, co-produce the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 during the 1980s and 90s, and then start a similar sized airliner with European firms during the 1990s, should not lead to conclusions that China will fail again. Unlike the previous periods, today China has a developed market of airline infrastructure and about 600 Boeing and Airbus airliners, and growing demand that can be used to subsidize domestic airline production. Chinese aircraft companies have also been co-producing components for successive Boeing and Airbus airliners, and by 2008 Airbus hoped to assemble its first A320, building to a rate of four a month, which is in the same class of airliner China now intends to build. That facility actually delivered 11 aircraft in 2009.
In June 2013 Aviation Week reported that Comac would miss a target to fly its C919 158-seat narrow-body airliner in 2014. Instead, the first flight was scheduled for the second quarter of 2015. According to the new plan, Comac will roll out the aircraft in December 2014. The manufacturer still was aiming to achieve its target of a first delivery in 2016¡ but only just. The specific aim is now December 2016. The first flight had been delayed by up to a year from a previous, unannounced target of June 2014. The C919, launched in 2008, began to miss schedule targets as early as the supplier selection and contracting stage. Comac simply was inexperienced in that process, despite having gone through it about six years earlier with its ARJ21 regional jet. The first delivery of COMAC's 90-seat ARJ21 slipped by at least four years from a previously planned 2007 debut.
A strong sign that things were not going well emerged in April 2013 when it was revealed that Comac had switched the material for the center wing box, the structural heart of the aircraft, from carbon-fiber composite to aluminum. Industry sources at the time said the change was made because the manufacturer saw too much risk in building the composite part. Another industry source now says that the problem was that the composite center wing box, built with foreign help, would have cost too much.
By May 2014 the maiden flight of China's first large commercial passenger jet, the C919, had been delayed until the end of 2015, with planes expected to be delivered to buyers in 2018.
The C919, launched in 2008, began to miss schedule targets as early as the supplier selection and contracting stage. One program manager later acknowledged that Comac simply was inexperienced in that process, despite having gone through it about six years earlier with its ARJ21 regional jet. Despite first being planned by COMAC’s predecessor in 2005 and taking its first flight in 2008, by 2014 the ARJ21 had yet to receive certification from either the CAAC or the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
A news report by the Daily Mail claimed that although the C919 is made in China, foreign firms are playing key roles by supplying systems as well as the engines, which are made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric (GE) of the US and France's Safran. Some questioned that the plane is not fully "made in China" but "assembled in China".
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