China unveils first locally made passenger jet

The Comac C919 passenger aircraft. Image courtesy of Comac.
The Comac C919 passenger aircraft (image courtesy of Comac).

China has this week unveiled a prototype of what will be the country’s first locally manufactured passenger jet.

The C919, produced by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) is the result of several years of research and development.

Comac has been working to build this craft since at least 2008, and has faced several delays relating to technology over the course of its development.

The first C919 craft was unveiled on Chinese TV this week to great fanfare, with Chinese president Xi Jinping congratulating its developers.

Reportedly, more than 30 international companies supplied components for the C919 aircraft and over 200,000 technicians were involved throughout its production.

“The aircraft uses the very best of domestic and foreign resources, and was designed and made in accordance with international standards,” said C919 chief designer and Comac deputy general manager, Wu Guanghui according to Chinese state media.

The aircraft itself is a smaller passenger jet, able to carry 156 passengers in a mixed-class configuration, or 168 in a pure economy class set up. Comac is also offering a high-density seating configuration for low-cost airlines, able to carry up to 174 people.

In terms of dimensions, the aircraft measures 38.9m in length, and has a total wingspan of 35.8m .

The standard configuration of the aircraft will have a maximum flying range of 4,075 km, while an ‘extended range’ version will be able to fly up to 5,555 km.

With this taken into consideration, the C919 is likely to compete with the Airbus 320 as well as Boeing’s next-generation 737.

The first test flight for the aircraft will be in 2016, with the first finished aircraft not being delivered until 2019.

Despite this late delivery date, Comac has lined up a significant number of buyers for its new aircraft, both in China and internationally.

According to the company they have finalized orders for at least 517 of their new craft to 22 different companies.

Comac has yet to publicly announce what price it is charging for the C919, however, it will have to significantly undercut competitors Boeing and Airbus in order to disrupt their duopoly.