I don't think anybody doubts that China will become a major manufacturer of civil aircraft in time, however their travails with the ARJ-21 have shown that the jump from assembling Western aircraft to designing your own is a huge chasm that is difficult to traverse. So the Comac C919 seems like a brave attempt given the market power of the existing aircraft programmes in this size range.
Fortunately for Comac being Chinese the government can leverage its considerable muscle and coerce airlines into acquiring the type. Even so the majority of orders come from lessors not airlines and a relative handful are proper firm orders. Despite being equipped with the next generation LEAP engines that power the A320neo it is hard to see the C919 competing when on a level playing field with the Airbus jet, which is assembled in China anyway.
Probably more of an issue for Comac will be getting the aircraft adequately certified and then being able to produce significant numbers, let alone providing in service support. Even so the C919 programme continues apace following the first flight in May 2017. Currently two aircraft have been completed and flown.
Skywings announced the release of a C919 in 1:400 scale only in late October and presumably, as with their ARJ-21 mould, are partnering with Panda models to get the mould made. Unlike JC Wings Panda seem to move quite quickly and already some shots of the basic mould are available for inspection.
The C919 is a standard low wing two engine effort. The look however is quite distinctive, and a little ungainly. The cockpit windows seem very large and remind me of a Boeing 757, whilst the rest of the fuselage looks much like an A320. The result looks a little weird and it certainly isn't much of a looker.
The mould above looks pretty good although since the cockpit windows play such a large part in the C919's distinctiveness it's hard to be sure. I assume that before delivery to the market that antennae will be added as is now standard with Panda releases.
Currently the number of models that can be released is tiny, however assuming a fraction of the order book is built there ought to be plenty of Chinese examples in different liveries at least. Regardless the willingness to create new moulds for obscure types is refreshing, unfortunately it only appears that way for Chinese types. It'll be interesting how the C919 turns out both in the full size world and the scale model one. Stay tuned!
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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