Review Article Open Access

China Launches Its First Passenger Aircraft

Relly Victoria Virgil Petrescu1
  • 1 Bucharest Polytechnic University, Romania


C919, the passenger plane developed by China within a national project, was successfully launched at the inauguration of its flight. After a series of long delays, this is only the first step by which China is trying to penetrate the international aviation market. C919, developed and produced by Aircraft Corp. or COMAC in brief, was initially scheduled to be prepared in 2012 with its first flight in 2016. Despite these delays, COMAC will be a serious competitor in the future for the leaders of the Boeing and Airbus civil aviation market, given that C919 will be up to 50% lower than the models produced by American and European competitors. This first model of the airplane, still under test, was taken off from Shanghai Pudong Airport, the event being broadcast live by the media in the Chinese state. The latter declared the success of this project as a reason for national pride, only six other countries in the world have managed to produce a line plane of this size, especially in the context in which just days ago China launched the first the aircraft produced entirely on the domestic market. China's ambition to develop its own civil aviation industry dates back to the 1970s when Mao Zedong's wife, Jiang Qing, supported the personal development of this sector. "A strong country must have its own passenger plane. China's commercial aviation industry cannot depend entirely on imports," said Li Jiaxiang, the head of China's civil aviation authority. Between 150 and 170 passenger seats, C919 will be a competitor for Boeing 737 and Airbus 320. Incorporating a state-of-the-art engine, specialists in the field believe the C919 is comparable as their competitors. The plane is not fully developed in China, the engine, electronics, wheels, brakes and many other components being manufactured mainly in Europe and the United States. Airplane price is announced to be about 500 million dollars, with about 100 million dollars below the price of the catalog of its competitors. Price differences may, however, increase in the case of large orders. Chinese media announced that there are already orders for 570 C919 devices from Chinese aviation companies. It is estimated that the global civil aviation market will total $ 2 trillion in the next 20 years. Boeing estimates that just to cope with the domestic market, Chinese airlines will have to acquire over 6,000 passenger planes of different sizes, the cost of which is close to 1 trillion dollars. The next step for the C919 to enter the global market will be the required certificates from American and European agencies, the FAA and EASA, which regulate the commercial aviation sector. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said shortly afterward that "there is no hesitation in a plane made in China, as long as they are built to a certain standard. There is nothing wrong with buying China-made products, but we are using China-made iPhone designed by someone else but manufactured in China. I think it will be good if this monopoly (Boeing/Airbus) is broken" he added this.

Journal of Aircraft and Spacecraft Technology
Volume 3 No. 1, 2019, 64-77


Submitted On: 27 February 2019 Published On: 12 April 2019

How to Cite: Virgil Petrescu, R. V. (2019). China Launches Its First Passenger Aircraft. Journal of Aircraft and Spacecraft Technology, 3(1), 64-77.

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  • China First Passenger Aircraft