Work starts on Pudong C919 final assembly line

08:50, December 29, 2009      

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Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC), which is in charge of the indigenous C919 passenger airplane program, yesterday said it has started work on the final assembly line at Pudong New Area in Shanghai and expects it to be operational by 2012.

The assembly line is located south of the Pudong International Airport and spread over an area of 267 hectares. The Pudong assembly base will provide facilities support to both regional jets and giant planes during test flights, general assembly and aircraft delivery.

COMAC expects the single-aisle C919 passenger airplane, the equivalent of the Boeing 737 or Airbus 320, to make its maiden flight in 2014 before being delivered to buyers in 2016. The company plans to manufacture 20 homegrown C919 jets and 50 ARJ 21-series planes annually by 2016

Construction of the three key units responsible for aircraft design, manufacturing and service, along with the Shanghai-based headquarters is as an important milestone in the roadmap to assemble large aircraft, said Jin Zhuanglong, general manager of COMAC.

The company has also signed cooperation deals with nine domestic plane makers for the project.

COMAC also recently signed a deal with CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran of France. Under the agreement, the C919 will be equipped with Leap-X1C turbofan engines

"We have entered the design phase of large aircraft, and it's predictable that there would be many technological difficulties as it is the first indigenous large aircraft," said Wu Kai, an analyst with United Securities.

In September, COMAC said its first commercial jet will "surely be cheaper" than comparable Boeing and Airbus models. The 168-seater C919 will use 15 percent less fuel than the current Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s, Chen Jin, COMAC's sales head, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

COMAC was set up last year with a registered capital of 19 billion yuan to develop a large aircraft for China.

Source: China Daily
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