COMAC developing wide-body jetliner

Updated: 2015-10-27 07:39

By Zhao Lei(China Daily)

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China has begun to develop its C929 wide-body jetliner as its predecessor, the C919 narrow-body airliner, is about to make its first test flight, according to aviation industry insiders.

Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, developer of the nation's large civil aircraft, is working on key technologies that will be used on the C929, Wang Jian, chairman of AVIC Electromechanical Systems Co, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corp of China, said at an industry forum on civil aircraft electromechanical systems that concluded on Friday in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

Wang did not specify what those technologies were but said the aircraft will be capable of carrying more than 300 passengers.

Earlier reports had said that the C929 will be equipped with domestically developed engines and aims to compete with the Boeing 777, the world's largest wide-body, twin-engine jetliner.

Wang's remarks were echoed by AlanJones, president and CEO of Aviage Systems, a joint venture of General Electric and Aviation Industry Corp of China that provides avionics systems for the C919 project.

COMAC developing wide-body jetliner

"COMAC has invited my company to take part in the bidding for the C929's avionics equipment, and I believe that will be very competitive bidding. Most of the top-tier manufacturers of avionics systems will be eyeing a contract," he said.

COMAC is expected to distribute a request for proposals for the C929 project to suppliers in 2016 and then sign a letter of intent with its chosen partners in 2017, Jones said.

COMAC is currently preparing for the first test flight of the C919, set for the third quarter of next year, though it's also possible that the test will be postponed to 2017 because of technical uncertainties, Wang said.

Launched in 2008, the C919 project is China's attempt to break the Airbus-Boeing duopoly. The plane is set to compete against the Airbus A320, the Boeing 737 and Russia's Irkut MS-21. It will be able to carry up to 168 passengers and will have a maximum range of about 5,500 kilometers, according to COMAC.

The first prototype of the C919, to be used for test flights, will roll off the assembly line on Nov 2 at COMAC's Shanghai factory, Wang said. It will take months of static testing on the ground before it will be tested in flight.

(China Daily 10/27/2015 page3)