Home > Press > Company News
Latest Media Release
Contact Now
Please contact us to discuss your requirements and learn more about our solutions.

Phone: +86 21 51559030

Amid ARJ21 Ramp-Up, Comac Plans More Automation

Jun 14,2017

SHANGHAI—Comac is planning increased automation as it sets up a second production line for its ARJ21 regional jet.

A final goal is to achieve a moving production line like the one that Boeing uses in making the 737, a Comac official told a conference in Shanghai.

But a moving line looks far away, since the manufacturer still has work to do even in getting its first production line up to a planned rate of 15 aircraft per year. Beyond that, the company is targeting output 30 aircraft per year, which will need the second line and, ultimately, 50 aircraft per year.

Comac said it has orders for more than 300 ARJ21s. The company tends to be loose in its definition of “order,” however, counting contracts that Western aircraft makers would not regard as definitive.

The current ARJ21 line is at the old Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing plant, the original base of the program, at Dachang, Shanghai. The second is being built at Comac’s new and vastly larger plant on the southern side of Shanghai Pudong International Airport, where Comac will also assemble the 158-seat C919 airliner. The ARJ21 is designed to seat 78 in two classes.

The first ARJ21 was delivered in November 2015 to Comac subsidiary Chengdu Airlines, which began flying the type commercially in June 2016. It has two units in service.

“We have two numbers,” the official told the May Civil Aircraft Industry International Forum (CAIIF) organized by Galleon. “One is an annual production rate of 30 aircraft [the first target] and another is a maximum of 50. But whether it is 30 or 50, our Dachang production line cannot meet the demand. So we need a second production line.” Currently, the joining of center and rear fuselage modules is completely manual, he said, adding: “Our new plan will certainly achieve automation.” At the same time, Avic factories at Xian and Chengdu intend to automate their work in building ARJ21 structures, he added.

The Dachang plant assembles ARJ21s using major structural assemblies received mostly from those and other Avic factories. Of six main processes at Dachang, only one—the connection of the tail cone and rear fuselage—can be done as fast 15 times a year, the official said. The station for fitting out the nose, for example, has a current capacity of only eight units per year. Connecting the center fuselage and outer wing boxes can be done only nine times per year.

Comac’s production engineers have a plan for relieving each bottleneck at Dachang. This appears not to include much of the automation planned for Pudong, where the ARJ21 production line now under construction is to have an annual capacity of 30 aircraft. It is not clear how Comac expects to stretch to 50 per year, but the conference heard that Dachang will further add capacity if required.

The capacity of Avic’s factories does not limit production, at least so far. Surveying them, ARJ21 program managers have found the factories can build structures for the aircraft faster than Comac can currently assemble them. Some even have the capacity now to build their parts for 50 aircraft per year.

News source:Aviation Week

© 2013 Galleon Corp. All Rights Reserved.