Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd (COMAC) unveiled the prototype of C919, China’s first large passenger jet, at a hangar near Shanghai Pudong Airport on Monday. China’s first narrow-body, twin-engine passenger jet can carry up to 174 passengers, can fly up to 3,451 miles, and has already received 517 orders from 21 customers. COMAC will begin flight tests of C919 next year, and is expected to complete the first C919 aircraft in 2018.
Hoping to break the duopoly of The Boeing Company and Airbus Group SE in the commercial aircraft market, C919 is set to compete with the comparable Airbus 320 and Boeing 737. Designed in Shanghai, the components of C919 are sourced internationally; vendors include almost 200 Chinese companies from 22 provinces and cities, Western companies, and joint ventures between both groups.
Airbus estimated the China will need 5,300 new aircrafts to satisfy its growing demand in the next two decades, totaling 17 percent of global demand. COMAC has already delivered its ARJ-21 regional aircraft and is planning to develop a wide-body aircraft to compete with Boeing’s 777.
C919 is expected to receive Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) type certification after ground and flight test in two to three years. Previously, COMAC ARJ-21 aircraft did not obtain US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification despite having certified by CAAC. Obtaining an FAA certificate allows aircrafts to operate on a more global scope, while an aircraft with only CAAC certification can only operate in some countries.