Featured Image: COMAC

Chinese Planemaker COMAC Starts Drafting C939 Widebody

DALLAS — In another large project to drift apart from Western aircraft manufacturers’ oligopoly, now on the long-haul market, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) has reportedly started to draft a new widebody jet with the name “C939”.

This news was initially shared by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), based in Hong Kong, which stated that this is not a rebranding of the current C929 program, but a completely new airframe that would complete a series of three variants to suit the rapidly growing Chinese aviation market. 

It is expected that China will surpass the United States as the largest single aviation industry in the world in the coming years.

COMAC promoted its shy range of aircraft variants at the 2023 edition of the Dubai Airshow with a single pavilion stand and no static or flying display. Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways.

Airbus A350, Boeing 777 Competitor?

While little is currently known about the C939, SCMP clarifies that the widebody would be launched as a competitor to the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 family of planes, and be configured to fly up to 400 passengers on each flight. Across the three main airline groups, China Southern (CZ), China Eastern (MU), and Air China (CA), all their subsidiaries fly more than 170 units belonging to these two families.

As of today, COMAC has successfully introduced the ARJ21-700 and C919-100 into the market during the last decades, but with severe delays and safety concerns. The C919 performed its maiden flight in May 2017, and made its inaugural commercial flight with MU six years later, in May 2023.

In the long term, COMAC also outlined plans to develop a stretched variant of the C919, the C919-300, that would eventually fit into the high-capacity sector in the medium-haul market, similar to the size of the Airbus A321neo or Boeing 737-9 MAX series.