Narrow-Body Passenger Airliner
Mounting delays have pushed the arrival of the touted COMAC C919 airliner from 2016 to 2018.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The government-owned aviation company of COMAC ("COMmercial Aircraft corporation of China") was founded as recently as 2008 and headquartered in Shanghai, China. Its primary focus has been the commercial airliner industry and its relatively contained stable is now represented by several in-development and future products led by the ARJ31 and followed by the C919. Future programs include the larger C929 and C939 offerings.
The C919 is billed as a twin-engine, narrow body, single-aisle passenger hauler for short-to-medium routes. Its passenger capacity ranges between 150 and 190, larger than that of the preceding short-range-minded ARJ21 with its 70 to 105 volume. The C919 stands as the largest indigenous Chinese airliner program since the 1980s which only produced three of the ultimately abandoned, four-engined Shanghai Y-10 aircraft. The C919 is in the same class as the American Boeing 737 and French Airbus A320 frames - two aircraft which currently own a large portion of the short-to-medium market class.
While still undergoing development as of this writing (January 2014), it is expected that the aircraft will receive its maiden flight sometime in late 2015. It has achieved type certification in China (2010) but has yet to earn its certification for operating in Western airspaces - which could severely hamper its export value. The manufacture process of future C919s will be a joint effort split between various Chinese manufacturers including Hongdu and engines will be delivered from CFM International of France. Avionics will also be imported with a possible locally-developed suite to come in the near future. COMAC intends to produce a singular standard airframe and modify this for the various envisioned roles to include general two-class passenger hauling, commercial freighter and VIP/business jet.
The standard C919 will feature a two-class seating configuration for up to 156 passengers and its crew of two. Overall length is 127 feet, 7 inches with a wingspan of 117 feet, 5 inches and an overall height of 39 feet. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) is rated at around 170,000lbs with a range out to 4,050 kilometers (another proposed model could reach as far as 5,550km). The CFM international "LEAP-1C" turbofan engines will provide between 25,000- and 30,000-lbs of thrust allowing the airframe to cruise at speeds of 520 miles per hour with a service ceiling in the 39,500 foot range.
To date, some 400 of the type have been ordered across sixteen customers which include Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airliners, Hainan Airlines, Joy Air and Sichuan Airlines. The largest customer (as it currently stands) is CCB Financial Leasing with 50 aircraft on order.
The aircraft was originally is slated for official introduction in 2016. However, a May 2015 update stated that the C919 would be readied for service entry sometime in 2019-2020. Now it appears the series will not be launched until 2021.