Daily Management Review

China’s Dream To Rival Boeing And Airbus Is Slower Than Expected Due To Technical Issues


China’s Dream To Rival Boeing And Airbus Is Slower Than Expected Due To Technical Issues
China’s dream of development of a homemade commercial aircraft that can rival the ones from Boeing and Airbus is going slower than expected. A recent report by the news agency Reuters claimed that the process of development of China’s C919 single-aisle plane, which has been running late by 5 years already, is slowing down further. This is because of a range of technical issues that are being faced by China’s state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation (COMAC) that have prevented test flights to a huge extent for the new craft.
While the process of development of complex aerospace programs often tend to get delayed, in the case of China, this slow progress is particularly potentially a cause of embarrassment because of the heavy investment that the country has already made in what is the first attempt of the country to venture in to the aircraft manufacturing industry and create a rival company for the likes of Boeing and Airbus.
The Reuters report claimed, citing sources, that a mathematical error was the cause of the most recent problem in the program.
The report claimed that there was a miscalculated by engineers of COMAC about the amount of stress of the force, or load as is known in the industry, on the plane's twin engines in flight. This resulted in them sending the wrong data to the manufacturer of the aircraft engine - CFM International. That raised the possibility that engineers now may have to reinforce both the engine and its housing which was likely to increase expenditure.
There were multiple such other technical and structural issues that has resulted in COMAC being able to only complete less than fifth of the 4,200 hours of test flight in the air within a period of over two years now. The 4,200 hours is the minimum number of test flights that is mandated for approval of the aircraft by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said the report.
According to reports, the program of the development of the C919 by COMAC has been largely kept a secret since 2008. The company has almost never disclosed any of its targets.
According to reports in the Chinese state media in September, a company official Yang Yang had said that the company expects to obtain certification for the aircraft by the country's regulators in two to three years. However no further details were available about the time line. Even earlier the company had set a target of certification by the end of 2020. And yet there have been reports of some other COMAC officials saying that certification and delivery of the aircrafts could be possible by 2021.
The report form Reuters noted that the correct calculations and data that COMAC will need ot send to the engine manufacturer have not yet been finalized. Such data is critical in ensuring that the engine does not fail under heavy loads. Sources have said that load calculations often evolve during development.
However the current uncertainty over the calculations on load gives no assurance that the company would be able to meet Yang's 2021-2022 target, said the report quoting sources.
"Things do not always work out as planned, but I hope COMAC would slow down a bit and try not to rush things," said the report quoting one of the sources familiar with the engine. "Otherwise there will be tons of issues later on."