Comac C919

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Comac C919
COMAC B-001A May 2017.jpg
Prototype maiden flight
Role Narrow-body twin jet airliner
National origin China
Manufacturer Comac
Designer Comac
First flight 5 May 2017[1]
Introduction Planned 2020 with China Eastern Airlines[1]
Status Flight testing
Number built 2[2]
Program cost $9.5B announced, $20B+ estimated[3]

The Comac C919 is a narrow-body twinjet airliner developed by Chinese aerospace manufacturer Comac. The programme was launched in 2008 and production of the prototype began in December 2011. It rolled out on 2 November 2015 and first flew on 5 May 2017, for a planned introduction in 2020. The aircraft is mainly made out of aluminium. It is powered by CFM International LEAP turbofan engines and can carry 156 to 168 passengers in a usual operating configuration up to 3,000 nautical miles (5,555 km). It is intended to compete with the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. The last purchase agreements on 19 September 2017 brought the order book to 730 from 27 leasing companies or airlines, mostly Chinese although American engine provider GE has 20 commitments.

Naming[edit]

The C stands for "COMAC" and "China", 9 means "forever" while 19 refers to its capacity of 190 passengers.[4] The C also has the implication that forms an "ABC" parallel situation with Airbus and Boeing.[5] In Mandarin Chinese, 9 (Chinese: ; pinyin: jiǔ) is a homophone of 久, meaning "forever" as a Chengyu in Chinese: 天长地久; pinyin: tiān cháng dì jiǔ.

Development[edit]

The 2008 program launch initially targeted a maiden flight in 2014.[6] Comac applied for a type certificate for the aircraft from the Civil Aviation Authority of China on 28 October 2010.[7] The company intends to manufacture up to 2,300 aircraft of that type.[8] In June 2011, COMAC and Irish low-cost airline Ryanair signed an agreement to co-operate on the development of the C919[9] In 2012 Airbus' chief strategist Marwan Lahoud was assuming that the aircraft would offer competition to Airbus by 2020.[10]

On 24 November 2011, Comac announced the completion of the joint definition phase, marking the end of the preliminary design phase for the C919, with estimated completion of the detailed design phase in 2012.[11] Production of the first C919 prototype began on 9 December 2011.[12] The C919's aerodynamics were designed with the help of the Tianhe-2 supercomputer.[13] The annual production was targeted at 150 planes by 2020.[14] Canada's Bombardier Aerospace has been collaborating since March 2012 on supply chain services, electrical systems, human interface and cockpit; and on flight training, flight-test support, and sales and marketing, from June 2013.[15]

Its announced development budget is 58 billion yuan ($9.5 billion) but its actual cost is estimated at well over $20 billion.[3] The flight testbed was expected to complete final assembly in 2014 and perform its first flight in 2015;[16] however, delivery was delayed again until 2018 due to technical difficulties and supply issues.[17] At the November 2014 Zhuhai Airshow, it was announced that the first flight would be delayed to 2017.[18] On 2 November 2015, Comac rolled out its first C919 aircraft.[19][20][21]

The first prototype ground tested

High-speed taxi tests were completed in April 2017[22] and the first flight took place on 5 May 2017.[23] Comac has a planned test programme of 4,200 flight hours and introduction to service in 2020 with China Eastern Airlines.[1] Slippage into 2021 is possible.[24] The European Aviation Safety Agency is working to validate the Chinese type certificate.[25]

Comac powered on its second prototype on 28 July 2017, targeting to fly it within the year for engine, APU, fuel system and extreme weather tests. The first has not flown since the maiden flight but no major issues have surfaced while small improvements are being made. The flight-test plan and modules was going to be detailed and will use six aircraft.[2] While the second prototype is ground tested, its second flight should happen in October 2017, this five-month interval is extraordinary: in 2013 the Airbus A350 flew again after five days and in 2015 the troubled Mitsubishi MRJ flew again after eight days.[26]

Design[edit]

The dimensions of the C919 are quite similar to those of the Airbus A320; its fuselage is 3.96 metres (13.0 ft) wide and 4.166 metres (13.67 ft) high with a 12.915 square metres (139.02 sq ft) cross-section. This may allow for a common unit load device to be used for both aircraft. It has a 33.6 metres (110 ft) wingspan (35.4 metres (116 ft) with winglets).[27] The aircraft's intended payload capacity will be 20.4 tonnes. The design calls for cruise at Mach 0.785 (450 kn; 834 km/h) with an operating ceiling of 12,200 metres (39,800 feet). There will be two variants: the standard version with a 4,075 km (2,200 nmi) range, and a 5,555 km (2,999 nmi) extended-range version.[27]

The center wing box, outer wing box, wing panels, flaps, and ailerons are planned to be built in Xi'an, China; the center fuselage sections are planned to be built in Hongdu, China.[28] Aluminium-lithium alloys account for 8.8% of the structure and composite materials for 12%.[29] The air frame will be made largely of aluminum alloy. Aircraft design and assembly is performed in Shanghai.

The wing is supercritical, increasing aerodynamic efficiency by 20% and reducing drag by 8%.[30] The center wing box was originally intended to use carbon fibre composites.[8] It was changed later to an aluminum design to reduce design complications.[31]

Both Pratt & Whitney and CFM International offered to provide the engines for the aircraft, the former offering the PW1000G and the latter the LEAP-1C;[32] the latter was ultimately selected.[33] AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine Co was also tasked with developing an indigenous engine to be used with the aircraft.[34] The ACAE CJ-1000A was unveiled at the 2012 Zhuhai Airshow.

The engine's nacelle, thrust reverser and exhaust system will be provided by Nexcelle, with such features as an advanced inlet configuration, the extensive use of composites and acoustic treatment and an electrically operated thrust reverser.[35] Michelin will supply Air X radial tyres.[36]

Market[edit]

In 2012 the C919 order book stood at 380 units worth US$26 billion,[37] and averaging $68.4 million. FlightGlobal's Ascend market values in 2013 were $49.2 million for the Airbus A320neo, 51% less than its $100.2 million list price and $51.4 million for the Boeing 737 MAX-8, 49% less than its $100.5 million list price.[38] In June 2015, the China National Radio predicted a $50 million price, cheaper than the B737 or A320 list prices.[39]

The Chinese airlines that have placed orders for the C919 already have either the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 in their fleets.[40] In 2013, Chinese state-owned newspaper Global Times complained that an Aviation Week editorial about the bleak prospects for the aircraft "maliciously disparaged the future outlook for the C919".[41]

COMAC aims to take a fifth of the global narrowbody market and a third of the Chinese market by 2035.[6] It expects 2,000 sales in the next 20 years.[42] China considers it as a source of national pride.[43] The C919 is outdated by 10–15 years compared to the latest versions of the A320 and Boeing 737, and will probably cost more to operate.[44]

Orders[edit]

At the November 2010 Zhuhai Airshow, Comac announced orders for 55 C919 aircraft from six airlines, with an additional 45 options. The purchasing airlines or lessors included China Eastern Airlines, Air China, Hainan Airlines, China Southern Airlines, CDB Leasing Company, and GE Capital Aviation Services.[45] On 19 October 2011, Chinese ICBC Leasing ordered 45 C919s and agreed to be the launch customer.[46] On 11 November 2014, Comac announced at the 2014 Zhuhai Airshow that China Merchants Bank's aircraft leasing division made a firm commitment for 30 C919s, and that total orders were now up to 450 aircraft.[47]

At the June 2015 Paris Air Show, Ping An Leasing signed a letter of intent for 50 C919s, becoming one of Comac's largest customers, and Puren Group signed a letter of intent for seven C919s and seven ARJ21s, intended for the start-up Puren Airlines.[48] In November 2016 COMAC has received an order for 20 C919s including 5 firm from Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Financial Leasing and for 36 C919s from CITIC Group Financial Leasing including 18 firm.[49] The last orders on 19 September 2017 brought the order book to 730, and while no down payments were needed before its maiden flight, 500,000 yuan ($76,000) were deposited subsequently for each firm order.[50]

Orders
Customer Firm
orders
Options
LOI/MOU
Orders Date
China Air China (Beijing)[45] 5 15 20 15 Nov 2010
China China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai[45] 5 15 20 15 Nov 2010
China China Southern Airlines, Guangzhou[45] 5 15 20 15 Nov 2010
United States GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS)[45] + 13 Nov 2012[51] 10 10 20 15 Nov 2010
China Hainan Airlines, Haikou, under Grand China Air[45] 15 5 20 15 Nov 2010
China ICBC Leasing, Beijing[46] 45 19 Oct 2011
China Sichuan Airlines[52] 20 21 Oct 2011
China BOCOMM Leasing, Shanghai[53] 30 23 Nov 2011
China China Aircraft Leasing Company (CALC), Hong Kong[54] 20 9 Dec 2011
China Bank of ChinaBOC Aviation[55] 20 14 Feb 2012
China China Development Bank Leasing Company, Beijing[56] 10 0 10 29 Jun 2012
China Agricultural Bank of China Financial Leasing[57] 45 2 Jul 2012
China China Construction Bank Financial Leasing[58] 26 24 50 19 Sep 2012
China Joy Air, Xi'an[51] 20 13 Nov 2012
China Hebei Airlines, Shijiazhuang[51] 20 13 Nov 2012
China Industrial Bank Co. Financial Leasing, Fuzhou[59] 20 29 Oct 2013
China China Merchants Bank Leasing[47] 0 30 (MOU) 30 12 Nov 2014
China Hua Xia Bank Financial Leasing[60] 0 20 (LOI) 20 30 Jan 2015
China Ping An Insurance Leasing, Shanghai[48] 0 50 50 17 Jun 2015
China Puren Group[a][48] 0 7 7 17 Jun 2015
Thailand City Airways[b][63] 10 (MOU) 10 16 Sep 2015
China CITIC Group Financial Leasing[49] 18 18 36 1 Nov 2016
China Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Financial Leasing Co[49] 5 15 20 1 Nov 2016
China China Everbright Group Financial Leasing Co[64] 30 30 13 Jun 2017
China China Nuclear E&C Group[50] 40 19 Sep 2017
China Huabao Leasing[50] 30 19 Sep 2017
China AVIC International Leasing[50] 30 19 Sep 2017
China Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) Financial Leasing[50] 20 10 30 19 Sep 2017
Total 119 257 716

Specifications[edit]

C919 specifications[65]
Seats 168 (1-class) / 158 (2-class)
Length 38.9 m / 127.6 ft
Wingspan 35.8 m / 117.5 ft
Height 11.95 m / 39.2 ft
MTOW 72,500 kg / 159,835 lb
ER: 77,300 kg / 170,417 lb
Maximum payload 20,400 kg / 45,000 lb
Maximum fuel 19,560 kg / 43,122 lb
Empty weight 42,100 kg / 92,815 lb
Turbofan (2x) CFM LEAP-1C
Thrust per engine 31,000 lbf (137.9 kN)[66]
Cruise Mach 0.785 (450 kn; 834 km/h)
Range 4,075 km / 2,200 nm
ER: 5,555 km / 3,000 nm
Approach speed 135 kn (250 km/h)
Takeoff 2,000 m (6,600 ft)
ER: 2,200 m (7,200 ft)
Landing 1,600 m (5,200 ft)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Project cancelled as airport of the corporation bankrupted[61]
  2. ^ City Airways orders looks doubtful as it was shut down in early 2016 by the Thai government[62]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b Perrett, Bradley (16 December 2013). "C919 May Be Largely Limited To Chinese Market". Aviation Week & Space Technology. 
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  9. ^ "Ryanair and COMAC Sign C919 MOU in Paris" (Press release). Ryanair. 12 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "Airbus to Seek Alliances as Rivals Try to Sell Big Planes". Bloomberg. 14 February 2012. 
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  13. ^ "China's Tianhe-2 retains supercomputer crown". Xinhua. 23 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Agence France-Presse (19 November 2012). "China's COMAC Collects 50 More Orders for Home-grown C919 Airplane". Industry Week. 
  15. ^ Mavis Toh (4 Dec 2013). "Comac and Bombardier discuss next phase of collaboration". Flight Global. 
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  36. ^ "Michelin to supply tyres for China's first commercial airliner" (Press release). Michelin. 12 April 2011. 
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  38. ^ Vincent Lamigeon (13 June 2013). "Le vrai prix des avions d'Airbus et de Boeing" (in French). Challenges.fr. 
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  49. ^ a b c Toh, Mavis (1 November 2016). "Comac wins lessors' orders for 23 C919s". Flight Global. 
  50. ^ a b c d e Brenda Goh (Sep 19, 2017). "China's COMAC says signs 130 orders for C919 passenger jet". reuters. 
  51. ^ a b c "COMAC signs C919 Aircraft Purchase Agreement and MOU with domestic and foreign customers, making total C919 orders hit 380" (Press release). Comac. 13 November 2012. 
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  53. ^ Toh, Mavis (23 November 2011). "Bank of Communications' leasing arm orders 30 C919s". Air Transport Intelligence. Flight Global. 
  54. ^ Katie Cantle (9 December 2011). "China Aircraft Leasing orders 20 COMAC C919s". Air Transport World. Aviation Week. 
  55. ^ "BOC Aviation Signs Launch Customer Agreement with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China for 20 C919 Aircraft" (Press release). BOC Aviation. 14 February 2012. 
  56. ^ Katie Cantle (29 June 2012). "China’s ABC bank orders 45 C919s"Paid subscription required. Air Transport World. Aviation Week. 
  57. ^ Hashim, Firdaus (2 July 2012). "China’s ABC Leasing orders 45 C919s". Flight Global. 
  58. ^ "CCB Financial Leasing orders 50 C919 passenger aircraft". 19 September 2012. 
  59. ^ "400 orders for C919 show sky-high confidence". chinadaily.com.cn. 29 October 2013. 
  60. ^ Toh, Mavis (30 January 2015). "Huaxia Financial Leasing signs LOI for 20 C919s". Flight Global. 
  61. ^ "Lübeck, Germany files for insolvency – again". ch-aviation. 6 October 2015. 
  62. ^ Mavis Toh (12 June 2017). "Long march ahead for China airliner exports". Flight Global. 
  63. ^ Toh, Mavis (16 September 2015). "Thailand's City Airways signs for 10 C919s, 10 ARJ21s". Flight Global. 
  64. ^ Mavis Toh (13 June 2017). "Everbright Financial Leasing signs for 30 C919s". Flightglobal. 
  65. ^ Daniel Tsang (19 April 2011). "COMAC C919 threat overblown". Aspire Aviation. 
  66. ^ "Single-aisle commercial jets engines : LEAP-1C". Safran. 

External links[edit]