The very first large commercial passenger aircraft designed and built by China, was unveiled to much fanfare at a grand ceremony in Shanghai on Monday.
This marks a momentous day for the Chinese aviation industry with the brand new plane being seen as the first attempt by China to challenge the duopoly enjoyed by Boeing and Airbus. The hope is that the aircraft can become competitive with international brands like the successful and long established Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
Manufactured by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (COMAC), the C919 will seat 158-178 people and have a flight range of 4,075 km. It is expected to make its maiden flight in 2016 with a three year long period of test flights to take place before the jet goes into commercial service in late 2018. COMAC has reported that they have received 517 orders from 21 customers both at home and abroad for the aircraft.
The “C” in the aircraft’s name is a reference to both COMAC and China. The “9” refers to the word “jiu”, meaning longevity in Chinese philosophy, and the “19” represents its maximum capacity of carrying 190 passengers and crew.
The project has been a long time in the making, being initiated in 2006 with COMAC itself only established in Shanghai in 2008. Over 200 companies and 36 universities nationwide helped contribute to the extensive research and development that went into designing the plane.
China’s state-owned aerospace company Aviation Industry Corporation of China is the main supplier of parts for the C919. AVIC also supplies both Airbus and Boeing and in much the same way as the other industry giants, the C919 does also depend heavily on global suppliers for many of the aircraft’s systems.
— George Chen (@george_chen) November 3, 2015
It is hoped, however, that in the near future China will have the capability to produce these systems and components entirely domestically. China already has grand plans for it’s home-grown trains with several proposed high speed railway projects abroad and perhaps it’s only a matter of time now before Chinese planes realize the same ambitions.
Check out the C919’s epic entrance in Shanghai:
中国迈向大飞机时代。China wants to conquer the skies next with its first home-grown trunk airliner targeted at international markets. That story on @channelnewsasia
Posted by Val Tan on Monday, November 2, 2015
And then watch the plane get assembled in just 140 seconds:
By Daniel Paul