China to develop single-aisle, 156-passenger jet

The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China plans to build a 156-seat, single-aisle passenger plane, expected to begin construction in 2016. Use of composites is uncertain.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Nov. 13 that China has begun an effort to develop the C919, a 156-seat, single-aisle passenger plane. The plane mockup shown by Chinese government officials is marked with the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) name. The plane is expected to begin construction in 2016.

It's not clear if the aircraft will use composites. According to the report, there are several well-known aerospace suppliers signed on to the plane, including Honeywell International Inc., Rockwell Collins Inc., GE Aviation, Eaton Corp. and Parker Aerospace. Powering the aircraft will be two engines built by CFM International, a company co-owned by GE and French conglomerate Safran.

The report notes that by one estimate, air passenger traffic in China is projected to expand about 8 percent annually for the next 20 years. The country plans to build 70 airports by 2020. To meet demand, China's domestic airlines will need to buy an estimated 4,330 new aircraft valued at $480 billion over the next two decades. Currently Boeing and Airbus each control about half the Chinese market for big planes. The C919 is expected to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

China already assembles and supplies parts for some of the world's best-known aircraft. Airbus' A320s reach their final assembly in the northern port city of Tianjin. Half of Boeing's fleet of 12,000 airplanes includes components made in China. About 600,000 Chinese workers are employed in aerospace, about as many as in the United States.

Information: Click here for the original report in The Los Angeles Times.