The COMAC C919 single-aisle commercial transport, China’s answer to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, completed a successful 1h19min first flight at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on 5th May, some three years later than initially planned.
The 160-seat C919 is the largest commercial transport aircraft ever built in China. It comes on heels of the smaller ARJ21, which entered commercial service in July 2016.
The medium-haul C919 is powered by two Leap-1C engines supplied by CFM International, the 50:50 joint venture of GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. The nacelle systems were developed by the Nexcelle joint venture of Safran Nacelles and GE Aviation's Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS).
Safran is also supplying the C919’s Electrical Wiring Interconnexion Systems (EWIS) via the Safran/COMAC joint venture Shanghai SAIFEI Aviation EWIS Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Other competitors for the C919 include the slightly larger Irkut MC-21 and Bombardier’s C Series, both powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan engines.
The ARJ21 is powered by General Electric CF34-10A engines.
In the longer term, China hopes to develop its own indigenous engine design, following the official creation of a new aircraft engine manufacturer, Aero-Engine Corp. of China (AECC), in August 2016. Investors in the new company, which brings together a number of existing aircraft engine entities, include Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) and Comac.
Other Western equipment suppliers on board the C919 include Honeywell, Goodrich and Rockwell Collins.
The 4,200 hour flight test programme aims to clear the way for entry into service with China Eastern Airlines in 2020.