China’s very own jumbo jet

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

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.

CHEN XIAO FOR CHINA DAILY

Com­mer­cial Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion of China Ltd rolled out its

first C919 jumbo jet on Nov 2 in Shang­hai.

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