LONDON – China is increasingly entering the narrow-body jet market and wants to compete with Airbus and Boeing. The country’s COMAC C919 aircraft has received type certification, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.
The C919, being built by Chinese state-owned aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC), will be a milestone in a programme already 11 years in the making to compete with aircraft produced by Airbus and Boeing.
According to Bloomberg and Xinhua News Agency, the announcement of the certification of COMAC’s C919 was made on Friday in Beijing. It’s known that President Xi Jinping and other high ranking Chinese government officials attending the event.
Certification of the new aircraft comes just ahead of China’s key party congress in October. Friday’s event marks the end of flight testing and paves the way for the aircraft manufacturer to begin deliveries.
You can read our summary about the COMAC C919 aircraft in the article “Will the COMAC C919 Break the Boeing-Airbus Duopoly?“
Delayed C919 programme
As we know, delays are fairly common in aerospace programmes of recent years, but the particularly slow progress on the C919 is a major embarrassment for China, which has invested heavily in its first serious attempt to break Airbus and Boeing’s monopoly in the global narrow-body aircraft market.
According to four people familiar with the matter, reached by Reuters, the machine’s latest problem boiled down to a mathematical error. COMAC engineers miscalculated the forces exerted on the aircraft’s engines during flight and sent inaccurate data to the engine manufacturer, CFM International. As a result in 2020, the engine and its casing required additional reinforcement.
COMAC, which has been working rather mysteriously on the C919 since 2008, very rarely reveals its plans and progress on the programme. The company’s previous publicly stated target for certification was the end of 2020.
Other COMAC representatives have said they aim to achieve certification and deliver the first machine by the end of 2021, which will go to the China Eastern Airlines. Now we know that finally it should be done this year.
COMAC C919 – new aircraft from China
The COMAC C919 is a twin-engine jet that, depending on its configuration, will be able to accommodate between 150 and nearly 200 passengers, and has been specified to have a range of between 4,000 and 5,500 km, depending on the version.
It will also be a direct competitor to the world’s most popular passenger aircraft – Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. The C919 will be powered by CFM International LEAP-1C engines.
The company plans to expand the project with new enlarged and downsized variants of the aircraft, as well as cargo and VIP versions. By 2035, the manufacturer plans to capture a third of China’s narrow-body aircraft market share and a fifth of the global market.
It is estimated that China could take delivery of around 5,000 new aircraft worth a total of $670 billion over the next 20 years. Since 2019, six C919 jets have conducted a series of ground and flight tests in places such as Shanghai, Yanliang, Dongying and Nanchang.
As of 30 September 2022, global aviation sources counts 310 orders plus 47 options and 659 letters of intent in total 1014 commitments.