COMAC and the C919
The COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) C919 is part of China’s bid to be a major player in the big airliner manufacturing market. The Chinese state owned manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), was established in Shanghai on 11 May 2008 with this mission in mind. The manufacture of large airliners is perhaps one of the most technologically challenging industries that exist in the world today. The fact that Boeing and Airbus have managed stay in this space for so long is testimony to their expertise and their ability to withstand the school of hard knocks.
The C919 airliner is the largest commercial airliner to be designed and built in China. The design is a twin engined jet airliner which will be put up in competition with the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737. This is a very lucrative market which Boeing and Airbus fight over vigorously, as these aircraft are the mainstay of Low Cost Carrier fleets.
Filling the 158 – 174 seat market, the C919 is the first phase of Chinas’ plan to be supplier to one third of the worlds’ large airliner needs. Like Boeing and Airbus, COMAC intends to have solutions for every segment of the jet transport market. There are already plans in place for the larger C929, offering 300 seats and the C939 offering 400 seats.
The C919 is designed and built in China and is of a similar layout to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, being a twin engined, low winged, single aisle aircraft. To look at, she resembles the A320 a bit more than the 737. The nose section is sleek looking much like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, whereas the tail section of the fuselage is more Airbus like, with the end point being aligned with the cabin roof rather than the Boeing style of having a cone with the end point being halfway between the top and bottom of the fuselage.
Shanghai is the central point for design and production of the C919. Like Airbus and Boeing, the various components that make up the C919 are manufactured by other entities. These are spread over China, for example: The flaps, airlerons, wing panels, center and outer wing box will be be manufactured in Xi’an, China. The fuselage sections will be made in Jiangxi Province. These parts will all be brought together in Shanghai to complete the end product C919. Most of the air-frame of the C919 makes use of aluminium alloys, with the centre wing box making use of carbon fibre composite materials.
C919 Foreign Components
Whilst the C919 is said to be Chinas’ own home grown airliner, there are still many parts that are being supplied by foreign manufacturers. This of course is not unusual as both Boeing and Airbus adopt the same strategy in the production of their own airliners. The list below shows some of the main suppliers of components for the C919.
C919 Supplier Table
|Avionics||Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, CETC, GE AVIC, (General Electric joint venture with AVIC (Aviation Industry Corporation of China))|
Fight Control System – Full Authority Fly by wire and advanced active control technology.
Parker, AVIC, Honeywell, MOOG
Landing Gear System
|Air Conditioning System||Liebherr|
|Hamilton, Sundstrand, AVIC|
|Flight Deck and Cabin Interior||FACC, XML|
|APU (auxilary power unit)||Honeywell, AVIC|
|Fire protection||KIDDE, AVIC|
|Goodrich, AVIC, TM, Jiuzhou, Eaton|
Many names are of course recognisable as suppliers for other aircraft makers and are experts in their field.
Building a new airliner for the first time is a very challenging and time consuming affair. Even seasoned plane makers such as Boeing and Airbus have suffered many delays in bringing their new prototypes to fruition. New technologies, new ways of manufacturing and doing things for the first time are all factors that will make the journey a long one.
With the development of the C919, COMAC initiated an agreement of cooperation with Irish Low Cost Carrier, Ryanair. This agreement lasted six months and enabled airline perspectives to be taken into consideration during the design phase. From here COMAC went ahead and created the design for the C919.
|11 May 2008||COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd.) is established with the aim of building airliners to reduce the dependency of foreign airliner makers.|
|28 October 2010||COMAC applies to the Civil Aviation Authority of China for type certification of the C919.|
|November 2010||At the Zhuhai Airshow COMAC announced it had received 55 orders for the C919 from: Air China, CDB Leasing Company, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, GE Capital Aviation Services and Hainan Airlines.|
|June 2011||COMAC and Ryanair sign a cooperation agreement on the development of the C919|
|20 October 2011||ICBC Leasing agree to be the C919 launch customer with an order of 45 aircraft.|
|11 November 2014||At the Zhuhai Airshow China Merchants Bank(Leasing) orders 30 C919s.|
|24 November 2011||The COMAC / Ryanair agreement is concluded.|
|9 December 2011||Construction of the first C919 prototype begins. Assembly was expected in 2014 with a first test flight in 2015.|
|September 2015||The first C919 rolls of the production line with no engines mounted.|
|02 November 2015||The first completed C919 rolls out.|
|05 May 2017||The maiden flight of the Comac C919. It is anticiapted that 4,200 hours of testing will be required to meet a projected launch in 2020 but will more than likely slip to 2021.|
The first iteration of the family of airliners planned by COMAC is the 156-174 seat C919. This will be the smallest of the plane makers’ offerings and looks to be offered in 6 variations. It is hard to know if this encompasses the whole fleet of C919, C929 and C939. The offerings are called: Baseline, Stretched, Freighter, Shortened, Business and Specials.
The C919 flight deck is very much along the lines of the Airbus style, with a side control joystick instead of the standard control column controlling the fly by wire system. Instrumentation is state of the art with two 15.4 inch main display screens in front of each pilot as well as a 12.5 inch side screen below the window. In addition, the C919 will be offered with the option of a HUD (Head Up Display). This is used in fighter jets where instrument data is projected onto a window in front of the pilot so he can monitor data such as airspeed, altitude and other information without having to look down. In other words his/her head remains up.
C919 Specification Table
|C919 Mixed Class||C919 All Economy||C919 High Density|
|Seating||156 in 2 classes||168 in all economy||174 in all economy|
|Seating Pitch||12 seats – 97cm|
144 seats – 81cm
|168 seats – 81cm||174 seats – 76cm|
|Fuselage Length||38.9 Metres|
|Fuselage Width||3.95 Metres|
|Tail height||11.95 Metres|
|Wing Span||35.8 Metres|
|Wing Area||129.15 Square Metres|
|Cabin Width||3.9 Metres|
|Cabin Height||2.25 Metres|
|Range Fully Laden||Standard – 4,075 km (2,200 nm)|
Extended Range – 5,555 km (2,999 nm)
|Max Operating Speed||Mach .785 / 900Kph|
|Normal Operating Speed||Mach .73 / 834Kph|
|Service Ceiling||12,100 Metres / 39,700 ft|
|Engines||CFM International LEAP 1C / COMAC CJ-1000A|
|Thrust||110,000–130,000 N (25,000–30,000 lbf)|
As more information comes to hand, we will update the details on this website. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in comments below. Thank you for stopping by.