Airlineberg Analysis- COMAC C919, against Airbus and Boeing duopoly
By Editor - Sat May 19, 11:39 am
(Airlineberg, May 19, 2012) The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), China’s Advancing Aerospace Industry, is accelarating the steps to produce its first commercial aircraft in narrowbody segment later this decade. Some experts say that the C919 will not be unbeatable aircraft in terms of technologically or commercially when it starts fliying
One of the reasons is that its dependence on foreign suppliers, such as General Electric, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, Goodrich, and Eaton, all of which are part of the Boeing 787 supply chain. The following table shows some suppliers/systems of Comac 919
|Fuselage – nose section (cone)||Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Co. Ltd.||China|
|Fuselage – foreward & aft (barrels)||Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industry (Group) Corporation Ltd.||China|
|Empennage (Tail section)||Shenyang Aircraft Corporation||China|
|Fuselage mid section, wing boxes, spoilers, ailerons, flaps, and slats||Xi’an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company Ltd.||China|
|Turbofan Engines||CFM International Inc. (LEAP-X1C engine)||USA/France|
|Engine nacelles and thrust reversers||Nexcelle||USA/France|
|Engine exhaust systems||Nexcelle||USA/France|
|Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)||Honeywell (131-9(C9C) APU)||USA|
|Electric power generation & distribution systems||Hamilton Sundstrand Electric Systems||USA|
|Fuel tanks and systems||Parker Aerospace Fluid Systems Division||USA|
|Hydraulic Systems & Equipment||Parker Aerospace Hydraulic Systems||USA|
|Fly-by-wire flight control actuation system||Parker Aerospace||USA|
|Integrated Fire and Protection System||Kidde Aerospace & Defense||USA|
|Integrated Air Management Systems||Liebherr Aerospace Toulouse SAS||FRANCE|
Chad Ohlandt, an associate engineer at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution, stated that “The large commercial aircraft market currently amounts to fewer than 1,000 deliveries a year globally. This makes it difficult for more than one or two manufacturers to achieve economies of scale. There’s also competition from Brazil and Canada, where Embraer and Bombardier are seeking to expand into the large commercial aircraft market. In Japan and Russia, the aerospace industries have designs on the regional jet market as a steppingstone towards large commercial aircraft production” and adding “ Lastly, as an airplane’s total operating costs over their 30-year life span well exceed their purchase price, it is difficult to convince airlines to buy less efficient airplanes, even at a discount. Even a government mandate for all four major Chinese carriers to buy the C919 exclusively (about 100 to 150 planes per year, combined) would not produce a large enough market share to be competitive with Boeing or Airbus without significant foreign sales. So COMAC is unlikely to become competitive unless either of the leaders, Boeing or Airbus, makes a serious error in the development of a future airplane.”
So far Comac announced orders for 175 C919 aircraft from several airlines and leasing companies, with an additional 60 options. Some of companies which are the purchasing airlines or lessors were China Eastern Airlines, Air China, Hainan Airlines, China Southern Airlines, CDB Leasing Company, GECAS, BOC.
Wu Guanghui, deputy general manager of the (COMAC), indicates the orders are mostly from domestic customers, but there are some from the United States and southeast Asian countries.
Wu said C919, China’s first single-aisle passenger jet, will be powered in the initial stage by advanced LEAP-X1C engines that will be installed in Boeing 737Max and Airbus A320 aircraft.
The engine, developed by General Electric Company and Safran, will have lower fuel consumption by 13 percent to 15 percent and cut emissions by 50 percent, according to Wu.
He said that China has also designed an engine for C919, coded “Yangtze 1000,” which is undergoing certification in Shanghai. Yangtze 1000 will be home-developed aircraft engine and “There will be a choice of two engines for the C919 in the future, and the plane will definitely have a ‘Chinese heart’,” Wu said.
On the other hand, To promote C919 selling and leasing activities, COMAC has recently launched an aircraft leasing company with the contribution of Pudong Development Bank and Shanghai International Group. The new joint venture company has a registered capital of CNY2.7 billion ($ 426 million). Pudong Development Bank is the controlling stakeholder with a 66.67% stake, COMAC holds 22.22% stake and Shanghai International Group holds 11.11% ownership. It is said that the new venture is expected to pave the way for COMAC to sell its C919 as the Chinese manufacturer explores the fast-growing domestic aircraft leasing market.
Comac is progressing with the development of the aircraft to meet the target of first flight by 2014. Comac still has its work cut out to meet the 2014 target. In addition, the C919 will face many safety certification hurdles before it gets the nod to fly internationally.
COMAC is spending billion dollars for the development of the C919 and China’s commercial aerospace industry has made impressive gains in the past decade. Ohlandt says “Even if the C919 is not commercially successful, Chinese industry will undoubtedly learn a great deal from the effort. If the Chinese Communist Party is willing to absorb such costs until Boeing or Airbus makes a mistake, then China could become a commercial threat. Not in this decade — but perhaps in the future.”
Comac C919 Current Order Book
|BOCOMM Leasing||30||0||Leasing company and unit of Shanghai based Bank of Communications|
|CDB Leasing Company||10||0||Leasing company and unit of Beijing based China Development Bank|
|China Aircraft Leasing Company (CALC)||20||0||Leasing company based in Hong Kong|
|China Eastern Airlines||5||15||Shanghai based airline|
|China Southern Airlines||5||15||Guangzhou based airline|
|GECAS (General Electric Capital Aviation Services)||10||0||Leasing company based in Stamford, CT and Shannon, Ireland; unit of General Electric|
|ICBC Leasing||45||0||Leasing company of Beijing, China based Industrial and Commercial Bank of China|
|Hainan Airlines||5||15||Haikou based airline under Grand China Air|
|Sichuan Airlines||20||0||Chengdu based airline with 40% provincial ownership|
|BOC Aviation||20||0||Leasing company of Singapore and wholely owned by Bank of China|
“C919″is the short form of trunk liner code for “COMAC919″. COMAC is the acronym of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. The letter “C” is the first letter of both “COMAC” and “China”. It indicates that this trunk liner program is the will of China and her people. It is a short-medium range commercial trunk liner that can claim indigenous intellectual property. Its all-economy class layout entails 168 seats, and the hybrid class layout 156 seats. The basic version is designed to cover a range of 4,075 km, while the enhanced version can stretch to 5,555 km. Such designs may satisfy the operating demands for different routes. Its economic life is designed to be 90,000 flying hours/30 calendar years.
Main features of C919
The design, development, and airworthiness examination of the airplane are completely based on international civil aviation rules and regulations and airworthiness standards.
Fuel consumption and direct operating cost per seat per kilometer are lower than those of similar existing airplanes.
Broader cabins and wider seats plus advanced system technology to improve comfort.
New engine to meet noise and pollutant discharge requirements.
Covering basic version, extended version, shortened version, cargo version, special version and corporate version.
Basic Principles of Developing C919
Chinese Characteristics. We should set our footing on the practical situations in China, leverage on the whole nation’s strengths andwisdem, and bring into full play the political superiority of the socialist system which is capable of concentrating all of its resources in achieving great things.
Cutting-edge Technology. We must consider user needs in the beginning during design and make sure the trunk liners that we are going to develop and manufacture will be competitive with other products in the same class.
Strategic cooperation. We will commit to national and international cooperation based on the “airframer-suppliers” model to share risks and benefits, and build a system of both national and international suppliers for trunk liner, and eventually establish relatively complete service and industrial chains in the commercial airplane business.
Innovative System and Mechanism. We should establish the notion and use of systematic engineering to promote innovations in systems and mechanisms, as well as in management.
Independent Intellectual Property Rights. In order to meet the demand of the domestic aviation market, we should comply with the safety, economy, comfort and environmental regulations of the aviation authorities and acquice ownership of our independent intellectual property rights.
Cagatay Firat, Managing Partner of CF Aviation, contributed this report.
Cagatay Firat, is an aviation professional and consultant, has over 14 years experience in aviation with 10 years of managerial roles in Aircraft Leasing, Fleet Planning, Strategic Planning in Turkish Airlines,THY. For further information and questions; email@example.com