It’s been a while since I’ve last illustrated an aircraft that kept me scratching my head in confusion the entire time, but the Comac C919 did it. Quite frankly, it’s a weird (but neat) airplane which seems to borrow a lot of design elements from other aircraft:
- The nose looks a lot like the Boeing 787
- The fuselage and engines are very A320-like
- The vertical stabilizer looks like they stole it off the 777-9 (which just so happened to be stolen off the 787)
- The winglets are short and stubby versions of what are found on the A350
- And the name? They went right ahead and borrowed “19” part from the Airbus A319.
Blank side view templates of the Comac C919
Despite the number of times I found myself giggling as I was creating these templates, I had a lot of fun drawing the Comac C919. I’m admittedly not very familiar with Chinese aircraft, so it was neat to see how they do things compared to their western counterparts.
The Chinese are notorious for copying design elements of popular western products and integrating them into their own. From what I can see, it is very obvious that happened with the C919 as well. I mean, it’s just too much of a coincidence that this thing looks a bolted-together concoction of some of the most popular aircraft from Boeing and Airbus.
I’ll give them credit for being scrappy though. Why reinvent the wheel when you know that there’s stuff already out there that is proven to work? Whether or not they can be accused of outright stealing design elements is a topic of another post for sure.
What exactly is the Comac C919?
Launched in 2008 and first flown in 2017, the C919 is a Chinese twin-engine airliner built to compete with the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320neo. It has proven to be quite popular in the domestic Chinese market, with 1008 commitments and 305 firm orders by March of 2021.
As of that time, there have been no firm orders (or even commitments) by any western airline. However, GE Capital Aviation Services (a US-based leasing firm) has shown some interest by placing 15 firm orders. Time will tell where those aircraft actually end up.
An assortment of really neat facts about the C919
No matter what you think of Comac aircraft (and the C919 specifically), there are some really neat things about it that shouldn’t be overlooked:
- The ‘”C” in “C919” stands for ‘Comac’ (and not “copycat” as you may have assumed)
- Even better, the number 9 in Chinese culture is a homophobic pun meaning “forever”. Yes, it’s totally ok to pause for a moment and contemplate that before continuing.
- Ryanair actually signed on as a co-developer to the C919 program in 2011. However, that agreement ended shortly thereafter due to national security concerns (it was China that was feeling skittish – not Ryanair).
- Bombardier is a supply chain provider for the C919 program (flight training included). Which we can assume to mean that China is cool with Canadians. But not the Irish.
- There was a 5-month delay between the first and second flight test of the C919 – a pretty big deal at the time, and an indicator as to how many issues there were with the C919 Comac needed to sort out.
- In early 2020, the US government was proposing to block GE from selling engines to Comac due to national security and competition concerns. This was never enforced.
- The average sales price of a new C919 is $68.4 million
- The C919 has a range of 2,200-3,000 mi (4,100-5,600 km) – which is far short of how far the A321neo and 737-8 MAX can fly
- Passenger capacity is 156 to 168 depending on configuration
- The majority of the aircraft structure is aluminum (as opposed to being constructed of carbon composites)
What is the next Norebbo aircraft template going to be?
It’s probably going to be the Bombardier Global 7500. FYI, I’m probably going to flip back and forth between business jets and airliners going forward, as there seems to be demand for both. I live to serve, and I want to create aircraft templates that will make everyone happy (if that’s even possible).
Also, the flow of new templates should be faster than what it has been over the past two months or so. I’ve been working on an in-depth airliner art course for the past 4 weeks (details soon!), and that has taken time away from template creation. Sorry about that.