China enters single-aisle aircraft market with rollout of C919

China has entered the single-aisle aircraft market with the official rollout of COMAC’s new C919 airliner in Shanghai.

The C919 enters a Chinese single-aisle market that is estimated by Boeing to require 4,630 new aircraft worth $490bn through to 2034.

The aircraft, designed to fly for 90,000 flying hours/30 calendar years, is expected to compete against the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

“Within a few years China should be the world aviation leader, in terms of airport capacity and the number of aircraft in service,” said Jean-Luc Doublet, head of commercial airplane programs in China for Safran, a major engine and equipment supplier on the C919.

The C919, which is scheduled for its first test flight in 2016, can be fitted with 156-168 seats and has a range of between 4,075km and 5,555km. Around 517 C919’s are said to have been ordered by 21 Chinese and foreign customers.

While China retains the IP, a number of foreign companies have supplied key components to the aircraft, including Safran, whose supplies include the complete propulsion system on the C919. In addition to the LEAP engine from CFM, this system includes the nacelle and thrust reverser, manufactured by Nexcelle, a joint venture between Safran (Aircelle) and GE (Middle River Aircraft Systems).

Safran has also supplied the electrical wiring interconnection system for the C919 through Shanghai SAIFEI Aviation EWIS Manufacturing Co. Ltd., a joint venture founded in 2012 by Safran (Labinal Power Systems) and Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Co. (COMAC).

Attendees at yesterday’s rollout ceremony included Ma Kai, Vice Prime Minister of China, Jin Zhuanglong, Chairman of COMAC, He Dongfeng, General Manager of COMAC, Jean-Paul Ebanga, President and CEO of CFM International, and Jean-Luc Doublet, plus representatives of other program partners.

“We are very proud to be a major partner on the C919,” said Doublet, “and to take part in this landmark event, which is highly symbolic not only for the Chinese aircraft industry, but also for Safran, since COMAC was the first aircraft manufacturer to choose the LEAP engine.”