CHINA'S NEW C919 twin-jet aircraft is due to enter commercial service in the 2nd half of 2017 with its maiden flight due by mid-2017. COMAC (the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China), the developer and airframe maker of the C919, China’s first domestically developed short-to-medium-range commercial twin-jet, has over 500 orders to date from 20 or more aircraft leasing firms and national airlines, including:
Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Hebei Airlines, Joy Air, Pu Ren Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, BOC Aviation, Bocom Leasing, China Aircraft Leasing, China Merchants Bank, CITIC Leasing, Huaxia Fin Leasing, ICBC Leasing and Ping An Leasing.
The C919 is a narrow-body trunk liner equivalent in size and performance to a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320. The C919 has 168 seats in all-economy class configuration, and 156 seats in a hybrid-class layout. The basic version has a range of 4,075km, while the extended-range version can stretch to 5,555km. The C919 is designed for an economic life of 90,000 flying hours or 30 calendar years.
C929 wide-body 10 years away from commercialisation
Meanwhile COMAC's C929 - which will be China's first long-haul, wide-body aircraft - has a much longer path to commercialisation. Unlike the C919 which is a wholly domestic project, the C929 sees COMAC teaming up with Russia's UAC (United Aircraft Co) to jointly produce what will be China's first wide-body jet.
COMAC unveiled for the first time a 1:10 scale model of the C929 at Airshow China 2016 (November) in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. The wide-body, twin-aisle large passenger jet will have a basic configuration of 280 seats in three classes, with a range of 12,000km. COMAC estimates that the C929 will be ready to make its first test flight in 7 years' time (2023) with first aircraft deliveries due in 10 years (2026). Final assembly of the C929 will be in Shanghai, near the C919 assembly line.
The COMAC/UAC joint venture (JV) wide-body jet program was agreed in principle during Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit to China in June 2016 with both parties committing to a total investment of US$1.32 trillion in the project, according to UAC president Yuri Slyusar.