Comac To Develop New C919 Variants

Daniel Fowkes
02 Dec 2023
· Aircraft 
· Airlines 
Comac C919 departing Shanghai Pudong International airport in 2017

Comac has unveiled plans to develop its C919 program further with the study and release of future variants.

What Variants Are Set To Come?

The two variants that have been unveiled are short and stretched versions of the currently existing C919. These are also named very simply C919 Stretched and C919 Shortened.

Cormac’s concepts were unveiled in Shanghai at their International Commercial Aviation & Aerospace Industry Exhibition.

As part of these new studies, Comac is trying to find better ways to compete with Airbus and Boeing’s narrowbody entries into the market, namely the A320neo and 737 MAX families.

The shortened C919 variant would seat around 25 fewer passengers in a two-class configuration with roughly 140 seats. However, interestingly, the plane maker says this variant is optimal for some of the more challenging Chinese airports.

In a two-class configuration the expectation is that the C919 Stretched version could seat around 210 passengers in a two-class layout. This is an increase on the standard C919 that entered service at 164 seats.

Thanks to these new variants, the ambition would be to offer customers more choices than just the standard C919 and capabilities for each company’s needs.

About The C919

Comac’s C919 entered service with China Eastern Airlines in May of 2023, following a first flight six years prior.

The primary mission of the C919 was to slot into markets for Chinese airlines that had the 737 or A320 in their fleets but had yet to decide on next-generation types.

Comac hopes that with their C919, they can get into specific customers’ minds before the MAX or NEO family of aircraft are pitched as ideal replacements.

Comac went as far as forecasting that the market for this narrowbody could tally over 2,000 sales over two years.

However, there are visible concerns with the design of the C919 alongside these forecasts, which analysts say are widely skewed.

Orders For The C919 So Far

Per the latest data from Cirium, six airlines have committed to the C919. However, only two aircraft are in service.

Air China has five total orders, with 15 classified as an option. At the same time, China Eastern is the largest customer, with 108 aircraft on order, ten options, and two jets already in service.

China Southern Airlines has committed to 5 C919s and has options for a further 15. Hainan Airlines has ordered 80 C919s, while Sichuan Airlines has ordered 20. Lastly, Suparna Airlines has ordered 30 to cover their future operations.

Comac hopes that with their future variants and a rise in production, they’ll be able to increase total orders.

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