It’s no secret that China is one of the world’s largest consumers of narrow-body aircraft. It is also no secret that China wants to be seen as capable of developing its own commercial airline industry. The Comac C919 is the answer to their problem. Unlike the ARJ-21, this aircraft is a much more ambitious affair.
Though still mostly constructed from aluminum, the aircraft features composite materials — at least in the wingbox. The Comac C919 has garnered 450 orders prior to the first airframe being completed, with the first flight expected towards the end of the fourth quarter this year. It looks, to the untrained eye, as if this program is off to a promising start.
Unpack the 450 orders, however, and the picture starts to look a little different.