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Comac Foresees A Future Of ‘Intelligent Aircraft’

Jun 14,2017

SHANGHAI—Comac is looking at supersonic speed and unconventional configurations among the technologies for aircraft to follow the widebody airliner it will develop with UAC.

The two companies may register a joint company for the widebody aircraft program this month, Comac Vice President Shi Jianzhong said, referring to the event that would mark the launch of full-scale development.He spoke at Civil Aircraft Industry International Forum 2017 in Shanghai organized by Galleon

For the future, Comac is investigating new propulsion systems; new structures; unconventional configurations; supersonic speed; and new energy sources, Shi said. It is also considering the use of Big Data, and a concept called the “intelligent aircraft.” The work is going on in consultation with suppliers, Shi said, neither giving details nor saying when an aircraft incorporating the technologies may appear.

Comac and UAC said in November that development of the widebody aircraft would take 10 years. Since the program is now supposed to be fully launched this year, the schedule implies first
delivery in 2027. However, program managers have discussed a date range of 2025–28.

Slippage is appearing even before the beginning of full-scale development, however. In November, Comac and UAC expected to set up their joint company in 2016, or in the first quarter of 2017.

They still have not done so. “In May, we may sign an agreement with the Russian side and hold the ceremony for registering the joint company in Shanghai,” Shi said.

The C919 flight was planned for February, Shi told the conference. He was evidently referring to the latest schedule, because when the program launched in 2008, the first prototype was supposed to fly in 2014. When the day of the first flight finally arrived, “Everyone will have noticed that the weather was not particularly good, but the flight was quite perfect,” the manager said.

Outwardly confident at the time of its establishment to create the C919 in 2008, Comac has recently tended to emphasize the challenges that it has faced.

Among the difficulties at the time of establishment, “Staffing was a difficulty,” Shi said. “At the time, there were few people working on commercial aircraft in China. Including administrative staff members, we had only 3,000 people. But now we have passed 10,000, including, of course, some foreigners, people we have trained and university students in many fields—graduate students, doctoral students, and so on,” Shi said.

Comac was formed from several Avic units, particularly those that were making the ARJ21 regional jet, which became a Comac product. Avic builds the structures of the ARJ21 and C919.

News source:Aviation Week

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