COMAC announces orders for 100 aircraft; ‘The Big Four’, GECAS and CDB Leasing get on board

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (Comac) signed orders to sell 100 single-aisle C919 passenger aircraft to Air China, China Southern, China Eastern and HNA Group, parent of Hainan Airlines in addition to leasing companies GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) and China’s CDB Leasing at the Zhuhai Air Show on 15-Nov-2010. GECAS stated it signed a letter of intent to purchase up to ten C919s, consisting of five firm purchases, and options for five more. No details were given about how many aircraft were ordered by the other customers, nor the prices paid.

Announcing the order, Comac Chairman Zhang Qingwei commented: "The confirmation from the original launch customers creates a market foundation for the C919 large passenger plane which is smoothly moving from the research and development stage into the build stage”.

C919 is a “big deal” for China

China first announced plans for the C919 in 2008 to help develop a globally competitive aerospace industry and reduce its reliance on imports.

The 150-seat C919 aims to compete with the B737 and A320 narrowbody products, particularly in the fast growing and high potential Chinese market. COMAC has estimated a demand for 2,000 C919 aircraft according to Wu Guanghui, Chief Designer of the aircraft.

In mid Nov-2010, CAAC Aircraft Airworthiness Certification Director Zhang Hongying stated of the 1,636 civil aircraft registered in China, only 18 were Chinese-manufactured aircraft.

Comac aims to complete the aircraft in two years with the first test flight planned for 2014 and a target delivery date of 2016.

Comac is working with international suppliers on the C919, including CFM International Inc, a JV between General Electric Co and Safran SA, Hamilton Sundstrand, Rockwell Collins, Easton Corporation, Honeywell International Inc, United Technologies Corp and Parker Hannifin Corp.

ARJ21 has around 240 firm orders

The C919 follows the 70-110-seat ARJ21 as the second modern commercial aircraft to be developed in China and is a key part of the country's efforts to become a global player in major manufacturing industries such as commercial aircraft.

Comac already has a backlog of around 240 firm orders and options for the ARJ21, mostly from domestic carriers, but also from GE Capital Aviation Services and Lao Airlines.

The aircraft was initially scheduled for delivery in 2009. The ARJ21 is scheduled to be approved in 4Q2011 and enter service in 2012. The aircraft has commenced high-intensity test flights to gain its airworthiness certificates. Four aircraft were undergoing test flights while another two were being tested on the ground in order to earn airworthiness certificates from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and CAAC. Since the first trial flights in Nov-2008, ARJ21-700 jets have completed more than 900 hours of tests in more than 400 trial flights, including high-temperature and high-humidity tests.

Want More Analysis Like This?

CAPA Membership provides access to all news and analysis on the site, along with access to many areas of our comprehensive databases and toolsets.
Find Out More