Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
More than 1,200 orders have been placed for China’s C919 passenger jet. Photo: Xinhua

China’s C919 jet maker says annual production will reach 150 in 5 years, as total orders top 1,200

  • First domestically made passenger jet will be fast-tracked to grab market share, vows Commercial Aviation Corporation of China
  • But deliveries of the C919 could be affected by Western restrictions on China’s access to foreign technology

The designer of China’s first home-grown narrow-body passenger jet anticipates reaching an annual manufacturing capacity of 150 aircraft within five years, and it is also accelerating the development of the widebody CR929.

The C919 was certified to fly by the Civil Aviation Administration of China in September after 14 years in development, with the first aircraft delivered to China Eastern Airlines in December.

The Shanghai-based airline ordered four of the aircraft in May at a cost of US$99 million each, with Comac saying it would deliver the rest of the orders within the following two years.

The state-owned aerospace manufacturer confirmed at the Zhuhai air show in November that it had secured orders from seven leasing firms for 300 of the planes, which are designed to carry 158 to 192 passengers.

What is China’s home-grown C919 aeroplane, and why is it important?

“The first orders are from China Eastern Airlines, and at present, a number of carriers are vying for our planes,” said Zhang Yujin, deputy general manager of the plane’s maker, the state-owned Commercial Aviation Corporation of China (Comac), in an interview with Shanghai-based media outlet on Thursday.

Zhang said the aircraft’s production will certainly be fast-tracked to grab a piece of the market share. In the next five years, the annual production capacity is planned to reach at least 150, and Comac said it has received more than 1,200 orders for the jet.

“We estimate that the [manufacturing] capacity for the C919 will reach 150 within five years, or even more. It is also a self-challenging duration for us,” Zhang added. “The domestic large-aircraft business will transform from comprehensive development to industrialisation.”

The single-aisle C919 aircraft, seen as a rival to Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’ A320, had received 1,035 orders from 32 customers by the end of 2022, according to the Shanghai Science and Technology Progress Report released on Tuesday by the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality.


China debuts potential Boeing-Airbus rival as its biggest air show kicks off

China debuts potential Boeing-Airbus rival as its biggest air show kicks off

The report also revealed that the development of the CR929 passenger jet has been accelerated. It has completed the first round of requirement verifications, with the verification rates for the first aircraft-level and system-level requirements reaching 98 per cent.

The CR929-600 is a planned long-range, 280-seat passenger jet being developed by the Shanghai-based Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation.

Comac delivered the first C919 jet to China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai in December, showing off the narrow-body passenger plane with a 15-minute flight that marked a milestone in the country’s aviation ambitions.

The home-grown commercial jet is expected to meet the rest of the requirements by this spring, after which it will be put into commercial operation, according to Xinhua.

Home-grown engine for China’s C919 is in the works, but still years away

China has high hopes that it will be able to gradually reduce its reliance on foreign technology and parts for the C919, amid strained and deteriorating ties with Western countries.

President Xi Jinping met with a C919 delegation in September and said that, “to be ambitious, we must strive to climb to the top of the world’s science and technology”, according to Xinhua.

Most of C919’s key parts are currently imported from overseas manufacturers, including the engine, avionics, control systems, communications and landing gear.

Given that China’s advanced technology industry has been significantly affected by soured relations with the US, deliveries of the C919 could face complications.

Washington has been placing more export restrictions on China’s aviation sector, with US lawmakers saying they are deeply concerned about the country’s military-civil fusion strategy that aims to modernise the defence force by integrating civilian research and the commercial sector with military-industrial players.