China’s COMAC challenges Boeing, Airbus with its C919 passenger aircraft

21 Feb 2024

China’s COMAC challenges Boeing, Airbus with its C919 passenger aircraft

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) is actively participating in the ongoing Singapore Airshow 2024, with its C919 passenger aircraft and the smaller ARJ21 regional jets, making its presence outside Chinese territory for the first time.

Five commercial aircraft, including two C919s and three ARJ21 regional jets are currently on display at Singapore’s Changi International Airport and, as reports say, these have attracted a lot of customer attention.

The C919 arrived at Singapore Changi International Airport on 17 February and made a rehearsal flight the next day, ahead of the airshow which runs from 20 to 25 February.

Flying in tandem with an Airbus aircraft, the C919 made a lasting impact on potential customers. The rehearsal flight was also a sure sign that the C919 passenger aircraft is ready to compete with established aircraft of Airbus and Boeing, in the narrow-body passenger jet segment.

Airbus and Boeing have been competing for leadership in aircraft manufacturing for long even as both plane makers were hit by supply chain bottlenecks. Boeing has been hit by safety issues after a near disaster involving its 787 Max aircraft.

The showcasing of the C919 comes at a time when aircraft manufacturers have been seen a downturn despite the growth in air travel.

Also, Boeing is not participating in Singapore Airshow 2024. 

The C919 took almost seven years - ie, from its conceptual stage in 2008 to development of the first prototype in 2015 - for development of the model. Since then it took years of meticulous development before the C919 first flew passengers on a domestic route in 2023. And, in December 2023, the C919 carried out its first flight from mainland China to Hong Kong.

The narrow-body C919 aircraft has a seating capacity of 156 to 168 passengers and a range of up to 3,000 nautical miles, according to the Chinese manufacturer.

The C919 has secured backing from domestic airlines, including China Eastern Airlines which initially placed orders for five aircraft. And, in 2023, the airline placed a bulk order for an additional 100 units.

According to Chinese media reports, COMAC will be investing billions of yuan into expanding C919 production capacity over the next 3-5 years. 


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