China’s very own jumbo jet
Another breakthrough in China’s manufacturing sector was achieved when Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC) rolled out its very first C919 jumbo jet from the assembly line on Nov 2 in Shanghai. The aircraft was designed to compete with Boeing and Airbus in the medium-range sector.
The aircraft, which can accommodate a maximum of 174 passengers and travel 5,500 kilometers in a single trip, is expected to make its maiden flight in 2016 after adjustments to its systems and flight test equipment. Another C919 aircraft is currently being assembled in COMAC’s Pudong plant and the manufacturer said that it has already received 517 orders from 21 clients home and abroad.
The C919 is not the first madein-China aircraft. The first looked to have been the four-engine Y-10 aircraft, which was already being developed by the Shanghai Aircraft Research Institute as early as the 1970s. However, the project was suspended in the 1980s due to capital shortage and spent the next few decades in limbo.
Zhou Jisheng, a prominent aircraft designer, was once quoted by thepaper.cn saying that it would take another decade before the Y-10 could reach the desired world standard, and that China’s commercial aircraft research and development technology was between 40 and 50 years behind international standards.
This large discrepancy prompted China’s State Council to launch the ARJ21 project, led by the ACAC consortium, in 2000. The regional jet went on its maiden flight in 2008 before the consortium became a part of COMAC in 2009. Earlier in November, the first ARJ21 was delivered to Chengdu Airlines.
The successful research and development of the ARJ21 in turn led to the development of the C919 project which started in 2008. COMAC is a relatively young company that has been growing in influence since its founding in 2008. About 74.2 percent of the more than 9,600 employees of COMAC are under 35 years old, with a rising number of staff born in the 1990s.
Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd rolled out its
first C919 jumbo jet on Nov 2 in Shanghai.