Apprehensively awaited by its rivals, the Comac C919 is less efficient than the A320neo and 737 MAX.
Finally… Fourteen years after the official launch of the program, the medium-haul C919 is due to be certified in the coming days by China’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The first example of this direct competitor of the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX, developed by the public aircraft manufacturer Comac, should be delivered to the China Eastern company before the end of the year. Initially scheduled for 2016, the entry into service of the C919 will finally take place six years late, after an evolution marked by multiple technical problems and additional costs. A year had passed from the first flight of the A320 to its entry into service. For the C919, it will be more than five years.
Does the device pose a threat to Airbus and Boeing? The risk seems extremely limited.
“The C919 would have been an excellent aircraft to enter service in 1987, believes Richard Aboulafia, an associate at the US firm Aero-Dynamic Advisory. In size and technology, it is the same type of aircraft as the classic A320 and 737.” launched in the 1980s. Only the Leap engine is new, and both major aircraft manufacturers have integrated it into their aircraft for a long time.” the American MD-80, which is ten years out of date and slow in performance.
But the C919 won’t be up to the level of Western competition. “In economic performance it will be between the classic A320 and 737, and the neo and MAX versions,” estimates Ernest Arvai, a consultant for the US firm AirInsight. The market was not mistaken: where the A320neo has surpassed 8,500 orders, the Chinese single-aisle stands alone at 815 orders, including only a handful of firm commitments, and almost exclusively with Chinese companies more or less forced by power to buy the device. The real threat to Airbus and Boeing is likely to be the next generation.[…]