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C919 Large Airliner

China's homegrown large passenger plane, the C919, took to the skies on Friday 05 May 2017 in Shanghai. Departing from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at around 2 pm (0700GMT) with five crew members on board but no passengers, the twin-engine plane signals the country's entry into the global aviation market as a strong competitor.

Xinhua reported "Within only 10 days, China has successively launched its first home-made aircraft carrier and large passenger plane, showing its determination to implement "Made in China 2025," a plan to transform China from a manufacturing giant into a world manufacturing power." Expected to enter service in 2020, the C919 marked a great improvement of China's innovative capability and high technology in aviation and aerospace industry. The narrow-body jet is comparable with the Airbus 320, which entered airline service in April 1988, and Boeing's 737, which entered service in early 1968 with Lufthansa. While the C919 airframe is of Chinese design and manufacture, most ot the subsystems, from engine to navigation on down, are from international sources.

The 175-passenger C919 was originally due to fly in 2015, but had been beset by delays blamed on manufacturing problems. By early 2017 it was scheduled to enter service in 2019, aimed at competing with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, along with the Russian Irkut MC-21. The C919 was first mentioned in China's 11th 5-Year plan, released in March 2006. Initially, the goal was to produce the plane for military and civil purposes by 2015, with entry into commercial service in 2020. However, China later moved up the later date to 2016. Commercial Aircraft Corp of China said 22 May 2014 the country's first large commercial passenger jet, the C919, will make its maiden flight late in 2015, with deliveries scheduled for 2018. When the C919 program launched in 2008, the first flight was scheduled for 2014 and first delivery for 2016.

Foreign media reported in 2016 that the delivery of the C919 could be as late as 2020, insinuating that it would be a technologically inferior product because it wont be available until after the improved Boeing 737 and A320 are released, some time in the next two years. By mid-2016 COMAC had a backlog of 517 aircraft. Of these only 30 are for non-Chinese customers. This proved the C919 is unattractive to airlines and lessors outside China. It also suggested the backlog from Chinese airlines was, shall we say, "encouraged".

Bradley Perrett, eriting for Aviation Daily on 14 Setember 2016, reported that "The aircraft is most likely to fly around April 2017 perhaps later... The slippage implies a delay in the undisclosed target for first delivery, which in the first half of this year was 2019." Comac was trying to fly the first flight-test aircraft around the end of 2016.

The aircraft will be assembled in Shanghai and, like the ARJ21, will have parts sourced globally. However, COMAC has indicated that many foreign suppliers will be required to participate in the project through joint ventures with Chinese manufacturers and to conduct a significant amount of the manufacturing in country. As of 2009 COMAC was in the process of selecting suppliers for the C919.

Airbus and Boeing aircraft designations begin with the first letter "A", "B", and the Chinaese large aircraft types to be known as "C919" shows China's determination to compete with Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The letter "C" in the title of the country's first homegrown jumbo jet is said to stand for "China" as well as "COMAC", while the first "9" implies "forever" in Chinese culture and the "19? stands for the jet's maximum 190 seats. Because the aviation industry has been dominated for many years by giants Airbus and Boeing, the situation on the market is known as the "AB" pattern. But with the development of C919, the global "ABC" competition may come into being.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:09:49 ZULU