When the Chinese aircraft manufacturer COMAC’s C919 enters service in 2018, it will be facing up to its two major competitors, the A320 (neo) and the Boeing 737 (MAX-8), but in what respects do these three medium-haul aircraft differ? Here are a few basic figures.
Firstly, their overall dimensions are very similar. Their wingspans are 118 feet (36 metres), and their lengths vary between 125 feet (38 metres), for the Airbus, and 131 feet (40 metres) for the Boeing. Their carrying capacity is also comparable. The A320 and C919 can seat up to 190 passengers in their high-capacity versions, whilst the Boeing can accomodate ten more passengers.
Concerning their engines, all three aircraft are powered by CFM International LEAP ( high-bypass ) turbofan engines (-1A, -1B, -1C), however, the Airbus proposes an option (Pratt & Whitney PW1100G) and COMAC plans to do similarly (CJ-1000A Avic Commercial Aircraft Engines).
In fact, to find significant differences between these three ‘planes, we really have to compare their ranges and prices.
The Boeing 737’s range extends to 4,150 miles (6,700 kilometres), being 125 miles (200 km) more than the A320; here, the COMAC is far behind. According to their data, the C919’s operating range is situated between 2,500 and 3,400 miles (4,000 and 5,500 kilometres). The Chinese aircraft will, however, be cheaper than both its competitors, at around $ 90 million per unit, or 10% less than the Airbus or Boeing.
Lastly, their entry into service date. Whilst the COMAC C919 is expected on the market in 2018, the A320neo’s first delivery is expected by the end of this year, which is 18 months before that of the 737 MAX.