Home' Asian Aviation : AAV November 2010 Contents 36 AsianAviation | NOVEMBER 2010
China pursues aircraft
Defying early scepticism from the
global aviation community, China
is well on the way to becoming an
aircra manufacturing force to be
The country, which industry
analysts predict will be a key driver of demand for
new aircra in Asia as its airline industry expands, is
putting past troubles behind it. Ill-starred programmes
such as the abandoned 'Trunkliner' -- a licence-built
McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30T -- and the Shanghai
Y-10 quadjet, closely modelled on the Boeing 707, are
now all but forgotten.
Commercial Aircra Corporation of China (Comac)
is now at the advanced stages of ight testing its ARJ21
regional jet. Meanwhile, manufacturing work has begun
on some sections of the 156-190 seat C919 single-aisle
jetliner, which is scheduled to y for the rst time in
In the meantime, overseas rivals such as Airbus and
Embraer have set up their own aircra production
joint ventures in China, hoping to tap the country's
anticipated strong demand for new aircraft. These
ventures have brought invaluable skills and technology
to the country. Not to be outdone, Canada's Bombardier
has placed centre-fuselage construction of its new
CSeries jetliner with China's Shenyang Aircra (SAC).
e C919 twinjet is planned as a family of airliners
that will be positioned to compete directly with Boeing's
best-selling 737NG single-aisle family and Airbus's
equally successful A320 range. As those manufacturers
ponder the next steps for their single-aisle o erings,
considering both upgrades and eventual successor
programmes, they are beginning to see the C919 as a
During this year's Farnborough air show in July,
Boeing's marketing chief Randy Tinseth was reported
as saying that China's C919 programme represents
the most potent new competitor in the commercial
jetliner market since the US giant's takeover of
McDonnell Douglas in 1997.
According to Comac Assistant General Manager
Wang Wenbin, the basic C919 will be able to
accommodate 156 passengers in a typical mixed-class
layout, or as many as 168 in a single-class con guration.
e standard version will o er a range of 4,075km
(2,200 nautical miles), while a long-range version will
be available with a range of 5,555km.
e aircra will o er a payload of 20.4 tonnes, with
a cruise speed of Mach 0.785 and a service ceiling of
39,800 feet. e aircra 's dimensions will be similar to
the A320, with a 33.6m wingspan -- increasing to 35.4m
if winglets are added -- and a fuselage cross-section of
12.92 square metres -- 3.96m wide and 4.17m high.
Comac is also planning to follow the basic model with
a stretched, 190-seat version of the aircra , as well as a
shortened variant, with 130 seats. Chinese certi cation
of the aircra is anticipated in 2016, with deliveries
beginning shortly a er. e manufacturer has not taken
any orders for the aircra to date.
Comac says the company has been using "market-
oriented" methods, including competitive bidding, to
choose suppliers for the programme.
In December 2009, Comac announced that it had
chosen CFM International as its engine supplier,
selecting the turbofan-maker's new Leap-X1C
powerplant, now under development.
Leap-X is a high-bypass turbofan engine programme
that was o cially launched on 13 July 2008, using
technology CFM developed under its LEAP56
programme, begun in 2005. e new engine is planned
as a successor to the CFM56-5B and CFM56-7B, using
more composite materials and a second-generation
twin-annular pre-swirl (TAPS II) combustor. The
turbofan will have a bypass ratio around 10-11:1, and
Preparations are underway for the first deliveries of China's indigenous Comac ARJ21 regional jet early in the new
year. Meanwhile, global rivals appear to be getting nervous about the Chinese manufacturer's plans for a 160-seat
jetliner, writes Andrzej Jeziorski.
First deliveries of the ARJ21 are now scheduled for early 2011.
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