China has invested heavily in commercial passenger jet manufacturing. In 2007, plans to develop a domestic large passenger jet were approved by the central government. In November 2015, the first C919 jet rolled off the assembly line.
Chief designer of the C919 passenger jet, Wu Guanghui, says government policy and financial support have been key to the research into and development of domestic large airplanes.
“I still remember clearly what President Xi Jinping said when he visited COMAC. He said in the past we held that it is better to buy one than make one and it is even better to rent one than buy one, but now we are doing the opposite and are developing our own large airplanes. China has a huge demand for airplanes in the future.”
The C919 was developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, also known as COMAC, in Shanghai.
Deputy Chief Designer of the company, Xu Jifeng, explains the strategic significance of C919 to China.
“The large passenger jet demonstrates a country’s comprehensive national strength, industrial level and international competitiveness. The C919 makes China the fourth jumbo jet producer after the United States, Europe and Russia. It’ll also stimulate technological innovation and economic restructuring in other industries, including metallurgy, infrastructure construction and electronic instruments.”
Kang Yuanli, a senior engineer of COMAC, says she has full confidence in China’s homegrown jumbo passenger jet.
“The C919 is not only marking a success in developing a certain type of aircraft. Throughout the process, it also implemented the technological innovation pattern with the integration of enterprises, universities and research institutes. This practice, including risk management, has realized the project management mode by linking the main manufacturers and suppliers. It sketches out the strength of China’s aviation industry, as a strategic platform for making mainstream aircraft to international standards.”
She also points out that, after the maiden flight, the C919 still needs to go through further tests to prove its airworthiness over the coming five to eight years, before officially being put into operation.
“This is a gradual process, the C919 will firstly carry out test flights in China, and then in Asian and African countries. After that, it has to attain the North American and European airworthiness certifications, and thus to prove its safety.”
With a standard range of 4,075 kilometers, the narrow-body jet is comparable with updated Airbus 320 and Boeing’s new generation 737, signaling the country’s entry into the global aviation market.
The jet was designed and produced in China and made with resources from around the world.
The C919 incorporates parts from over 30 global suppliers such as Honeywell International Inc. Its engines were made by a joint venture between General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines. – CRI
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