Montreal - Airlines that are concerned buying the Boeing's 737 MAX jets may consider switching to Airbus's A320neo. But it's not likely due to the long waiting list. Thus, Airbus has been already behind its delivery schedule.
Both Boeing and Airbus are not the only options for airline operators. New players gear up to offer their new single-aisle jetliners to the market: China's state-run aircraft manufacturer Comac and Russia's Irkut.
Comac C919 is a narrow-body, 170-seater jetliner developed by Comac (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China). The program was launched in December 2011 and the aircraft made its maiden flight on May 5, 2017. Comac's C919 has so far accumulated more than 800 orders, in particular, from Chinese operators. The first deliveries are expected to begin in 2021.
The program is part of an ambitious plan to end the sovereignty of western aircraft manufacturers in the market. Comac is also working on a wide-body aircraft named C929 with the Russian manufacturer UAC (United Aircraft Corporation).
The engines of the C919s will be supplied by CFM International, a joint venture between the American General Electric and French Safran. Because China has no civil aircraft engine design and production capacity.
Last year in October, The U.S. Justice Department accused two Chinese citizens of trying to steal the commercial secrets of the U.S. engine manufacturers. According to the department, these persons were Chinese Intelligence agents who tried to penetrate to the information systems of the U.S. aircraft engine manufacturers.
According to a projection made by Comac early this year, the Chinese civil aviation sector will need around 9000 new aircraft valued at $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. Two-thirds of these planes will be narrow-body jets.
Chinese civil aviation regulator was the first in the world to ground 737 MAX jets after Ethiopian crash on March 10.
Irkut MC-21 is a Russian single-aisle airliner, developed Irkut Corporation, a branch of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) together with other Russian aircraft manufacturers such as Sukhoi and Tupolev.
The program was launched in 2006 and the aircraft is currently under certification campaign. Irkut's MC-21 is also intended to compete with the western made single-aisle jets like its Chinese counterpart.
The third prototype that is equipped with a passenger cabin for the first time, made its maiden flight on March 16. This year, the Irkut Corporation will make the public debut of the aircraft at the MAKS International Aviation and Space Show in Moscow, which will be held from August 27 to September 1st.
The aircraft is powered by two Russian-made Aviadvigatel PD-14 engines, but the PW1400G from the American manufacturer Pratt & Whitney will be offered as an option.
According to the manufacturer, the MC-21 will be significantly cheaper than the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX.
After the recent Ethiopian 737 MAX crash, the Russian government recommended state-owned Pobeda Airlines to consider Irkut MC-21 instead of the Boeing 737 MAX. The airline had submitted a request to the government for the order 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8.
On the other hand, the manufacturer had to delay the serial production of the aircraft from 2020 to 2021due to the western sanctions imposed against the Russian Federation. Because the aircraft requires some western components such as the PW engines and the composite materials used in the construction of the wings.
Irkut MC-21 has so far recorded more than 200 firm orders and 150 order commitments mostly from Russian airline operators.