China’s First Big Passenger Plane Rolls off Production Line
China made aviation history on November 2, when its first domestically produced large passenger aircraft was unveiled in Shanghai.
The C919 plane was developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) and, upon being cleared for commercial use, is expected to compete with the updated Airbus 320 and Boeing’s newgeneration 737. The C919 has 158 seats and a standard range of 4,075 kilometers.
As its maiden flight is scheduled for next year, however, followed by at least another three years of test flights , it will take some time before the single-aisle jet can ply international commercial air routes.
COMAC said that it had already accepted 517 orders from 21 foreign and domestic customers. The version off the production line on November 2 is the basic model, but COMAC has extended, shortened, cargo and business versions in the pipeline as well. In addition, this new-generation jet will have flexible cabin designs to suit different airlines.
The C1919 is the result of seven years of hard work by a group of 200 aircraft component manufacturers and the research teams of 36 higher-learning institutes from 22 provinces and municipalities in China. More than 30 foreign firms, including GE and Honeywell, have supplied components for the C919 aircraft, and over 200,000 technicians were involved throughout the production cycle.
“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.
The aircraft features 102 new technological and material applications, including third-generation aluminum-lithium alloy materials that are used for the body, according to COMAC chair Jin Zhuanglong.