As the first Mainland Chinese built passenger jet, will the C919 revolutionize Asia’s airline industry?
By: Ringo Bones
As the first Mainland Chinese built passenger plane, the C9191 was aimed to rival Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320 – two of the most oft-used planes in the small to medium airline companies in Asia. As Mainland China’s attempt to propel itself into the “top flight” of the global aviation industry, the roll off of the C919 was witnessed by 4,000 spectators, including Beijing’s senior communist party leaders, engineers and journalist as they gathered at a hangar at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport for the viewing of the new 158-seat passenger plane.
The C919 is a product of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China or COMAC. Work on the C919 began back in 2008 but its first test flight, originally scheduled back in 2014, was postponed until 2016 according to COMAC’s chief executive. While the “C” in C919 stands for China, many of the plane’s subsystems have been provided by foreign companies, including Honeywell and Rockwell Collins.
While it is no secret that the civil aviation business is one of the fastest growing industry in Mainland China and the rest of East Asia, Boeing predicts that by the year 2034, Mainland Chinese airline companies will need to buy 4,630 new single-aisle passenger planes with a total worth of about 490 billion US dollars and 1,500 new wide-bodied passenger planes worth 450 billion US dollars. So despite of the foreign competition, there would still be buyers for COMAC’s C919 passenger jets. But despite growing demands for new jet airliners in the Far East, most major airline companies in the region at the moment prefer to buy their planes form the “big boys” – i.e. the established passenger jet makers like the United State’s Boeing, the E.U.’s Airbus and Brazil’s Embraer.