COMAC 919.




COMAC 919 in COMAC colours registration B-001A.

The COMAC 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.

COMAC C919 Commercial Aircraft Corporation Of China registration B-001C.

The C919 airliner is the largest commercial airliner to be designed and built in China. The design is a twin-engined jet airliner that will be put up in competition with the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.  This is a very lucrative market that Boeing and Airbus fight over vigorously, as these aircraft are the mainstay of Low-Cost Carrier fleets.

Filling the 158 - 174 seat market, the Comac C919 is the first phase of China's plan to be a supplier to one-third of the world's 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.

Shanghai is the central point for the design and production of the C919. Like Airbus and Boeing, the various components that make up the C919 are manufactured by other entities.

These entities are spread all over China, for example, the flaps, ailerons, wing panels, and centre and outer wing box will 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 construction.

The assembly of the COMAC C919 takes place in Shanghai.

Whilst the C919 is said to be China's own homegrown 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.

Whilst the list of suppliers currently might feature many non-Chinese entities, rest assured this is only until such time as China can ramp up their own technology to build these parts themselves.

For example, the engines which are currently supplied by the General Electric joint venture with AVIC will be replaced by the Chinese-developed CJ1000. The government has a development project beginning 2021-2025. This could take 15 years. The list below shows some of the main suppliers of components for the C919.

The COMAC C919 passenger jet.

COMAC C919 Suppliers.

Component Supplier
Engines Leap X1C engine supplied by CFMI, a joint venture between US based General Electric and French based SNECMA.
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 Liebherr
Hydraulic System Parker, AVIC
Air Conditioning System Liebherr
Electric System Hamilton, Sundstrand, AVIC
Flight Deck and Cabin Interior FACC, XML
APU (auxilary power unit) Honeywell, AVIC
Fire protection KIDDE, AVIC
Lighting System Goodrich, AVIC, TM, Jiuzhou, Eaton

Many names are of course recognisable as suppliers for other aircraft makers and are experts in their field.


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/she can monitor data such as airspeed, altitude, and other information without having to look down. In other words, his/her head remains up.

The C919 flight deck features a side control stick in place of the centre control column preferred by Boeing.

The C919 flight deck features a side control stick in place of the centre control column preferred by Boeing. As well as the large display screens note the HUD glass panels at the top of the picture.

COMAC 919 Specs Table

C919 Mixed Class C919 All Economy C919 High Density
Flight Crew 2
Seating 158 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
MTOW 72,500 kg/159,835 lb
Extended Range 77,300 kg / 170,417 lb
Maximum Fuel 24,364 Lt (6,436 US Gal)
Maximum Payload 20,400 kg / 45,000 lb
Empty Weight 42,100 kg / 92,815 lb
Range Fully Laden Standard - 4,075 km (2,200 nm)
Extended Range - 5,555 km (2,999 nm)
Cruise Mach .785 / 598 mph / 969 Kph
Take-off distance 2,000 M / 6,600 ft
Extended Range 2,200 M / 7,200 ft
Service Ceiling 12,100 M / 39,700 ft
Approach Speed 135 kn / 250 kph
Landing/span 1,600 M / 5,200 ft
Engines CFM International LEAP 1C / COMAC CJ-1000A
Thrust 137.9 kN (31,000 lbf)

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.


COMAC C919 taxying.

COMAC C919 taxying in to cheers.

A COMAC C919 History Timeline.

Date Event
11 May 2008 COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd.) is established with the aim of building airliners to reduce the dependency on 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.
April 2017 High speed taxi tests completed.
05 May 2017 The maiden flight of the Comac C919. 4,200 hours of testing required to meet a projected launch in 2020 but will more than likely slip to 2021.
28 September 2017 The second flight of the COMAC C919, 2 hours 46 minutes to a height of 10,000ft. The delay of five months between first and second flights is quite unusual.
28 July 2017 The second COMAC C919 prototype is completed. The flight test program called for six aircraft.
03 November 2017 The third flight lasting 3 hours 45 minutes to a height of 9,800ft.
10 November 2017 The first prototype was transferred from Shanghai to Xian to continue flight testing.
17 December 2017 The second prototype makes its maiden flight.
February 2018 The first prototype was flying once a week, however, launch customer, China Eastern Airlines, was advised that the launch would likely slip from 2020 to 2021.
June 2018 It was reported that the launch schedule would be delayed three months, but COMAC were still hoping for a 2020 certification.
12 July 2018 The second prototype flew from Shanghai/Pudong to Dongying Airport in 1 hour 46 minutes to take in a variation of meteorological conditions.
01 August 2019 The fourth prototype conducted its maiden flight, taking off from Shanghai/Pudong.
24 October 2019 The fifth prototype conducted its maiden flight, taking off from Shanghai/Pudong.
27 December 2019 The sixth prototype conducted its maiden flight.
27 November 2020 The CAAC issued a type inspection authorisation. This basically means that aircraft design is finalised and no major structural changes can now be made.
29 September 2022 The CAAC issued the airworthiness certificate for the C919.
09 December 2022 The first C919 is delivered to China Eastern Airlines. Four more will follow in 2023.
28 May 2023 First commercial flight of the COMAC C919, as flight MU9191 departing from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and arriving at Beijing Capital Airport.