商飞这脸丢的 外媒称C919严重落伍无法取得适航证

商飞这脸丢的 外媒称C919严重落伍无法取得适航证

Chances are rising that the Comac C919 willbe largely limited to the Chinese market, as the manufacturer works towardlocal airworthiness certification while seeing no sure path to the desired FAAendorsement of the type.


The Chinese market is big, so sales ofperhaps 1,000 units remain plausible, in the opinion of program officials. Butthe 158-seat narrowbody's prospects for making much of an impact on the widermarket, perhaps never large, are diminishing.


The problem emerged in 2011 and is stillunresolved. Delays in Comac's earlier program, the ARJ21 regional jet, areholding up FAA recognition of the certification competence of the CivilAviation Administration of China (CAAC) (AW&ST Sept. 12, 2011, p. 24). Thatcasts doubt on the FAA's eventual acceptance of the CAAC's current work on C919and therefore the Chinese type certificate. Without Western airworthinessendorsement, the C919 cannot be sold in main commercial aircraft marketsoutside of China.


“As we see it, this is a highly complex situation,” says an executiveclosely involved in the C919 certification effort. “Because the FAA's positionis affected by the ARJ21, we currently have no way of resolving this problem.”For the moment, the C919 program can only work on obtaining CAAC certificationand hope the Chinese authority and the FAA can come to a helpful agreement.Comac has not given up, the executive adds: FAA endorsement is still a C919objective.


Under a Bilateral Air Safety Agreement, theFAA is coaching and supervising the CAAC in dealing with the ARJ21certification application. If and when the process is correctly completed, withthe issue or refusal of a type certificate, the FAA will recognize the CAAC asa certifying authority. The FAA is similarly helping the Japanese CivilAviation Bureau, with the Mitsubishi Aircraft MRJ regional jet as the testcase. The FAA and European Aviation Safety Authority support authorities ofother countries in this way because Americans and Europeans also fly on theforeign aircraft.


The ARJ is not now expected to be certifieduntil the end of 2014, by which time the CAAC will have accumulated at leastthree years of C919 work with little or no FAA involvement. The issue iswhether the FAA will recognize the validity of that work retrospectively oncethe CAAC proves itself with the ARJ21. The FAA would have to accept that itsChinese counterpart had followed the same procedures with the C919 as it usedfor the ARJ21. Last year, an official familiar with the FAA's options suggestedthat it could do so. Comac officials have no assurance that it will, however.And the FAA's confidence can only decline as the volume of unrecognized workrises.

该型新一代支线喷气机现在预计不会得到认证,直到2014年年底,届时中国民航总局会先积累至少三年C919很少或没有美国联邦航空局介入的工作。考虑到中国民航总局曾经证明自己的ARJ21,问题是美国联邦航空局是否会承认到这些工作的有效性。美国联邦航空局将不得不接受,它的中国同行把曾使用在 ARJ21上相同的程序用于C919。去年,一位熟悉美国联邦航空局选项的官员建议它可以这样做。但是,中国商飞官员不能保证它会这样。并且当未确认工作量上升时,美国联邦航空局的信心只得衰退。

Customers of the C919 have expressed adesire for FAA endorsement of the certification, even though they are allChinese and therefore do not need it. There is no suggestion the CAAC would besoft on Comac; on the contrary, it is repeatedly reported that the Chineseauthority is tougher than the FAA.


The C919's competitiveness in non-Chinesemarkets has long been questioned, especially since 2010-11, when Airbus andBoeing launched new versions of the A320 and 737 with engines the same as orsimilar to the CFM Leap 1 on Comac's aircraft. This year's schedule slippages andrejection of a composite material for the center wing box have furtherdiminished the C919's market clout (AW&ST Aug. 19, p. 39).

C919在非中国市场的竞争力却一直受到质疑,特别是自2010至11年以来,当空中客车公司和波音公司推出的A320和737装有与中国商飞飞机的 CFM公司Leap 1型发动机相同或相似的新版本时。今年的日程延误和中央翼盒的复合材料的抛弃都进一步削弱了C919的市场影响力(《航空和空间技术周刊》8月19日号,第39页)。

But even if the aircraft proved to beseriously outmatched, production subsidies could conceivably allow Comac,itself a state agency, to sell it—providing the C919 had the certification thatmade it eligible for the market.


Subsidies are likely anyway. The announcedC919 development budget is 58 billion yuan ($9.5 billion) but the real figureis probably 50% higher, says an industry executive whose company, not acompetitor to Comac, has studied the issue. Adding interest, a production runof 1,000 C919s would demand recovery of well over $20 million in developmentcosts per aircraft, a figure the market is not likely to bear.

无论如何,补贴是很可能的。已公布的C919开发预算为580亿元人民币(约合95亿美元),但实际研究该问题的数字可能高出50%,一名与中国商飞没有竞争关系的公司的行业高管说。加上利息,1,000架 C919的生产运行会需要每架飞机的开发成本要远远超过2000万美元的盈利,这个数字市场也不太可能能够承受。

Comac's Chinese engineers are probablyearning about half as much as their counterparts at Boeing or Airbus, but theC919 program is also employing many very costly expatriate foreign engineers.Most important, inexperienced managers cannot be expected to know the mostefficient ways of developing an airliner, so program costs should be unusuallyhigh, says the executive.


Two years ago Comac had to ask for top-updevelopment funding from the government, which agreed to an unknown amount. Themoney seems to be budgeted but not assured, however, because Comac has tosecure its funds every year from the government, industry officials say.


Since the top-up was approved, Comac hasadded about a year to the development schedule, implying another year of salaries.It has a three-month buffer in its current schedule, which includes a firstflight late in 2015.


Production costs of the C919 will have tobe higher than those of the A320 and 737 at first, since Airbus and Boeing havevery well-honed manufacturing processes. But studies by the same outsidecompany suggest that when the C919 production line is mature, Comac should beable build more, cheaply, thanks largely to lower wages.


Comac has forecast production of 2,200C919s and an eventual steady rate of 150 a year. Executives who have studiedthe program say the actual total will probably be about half of the forecast.They do not see reason to be more pessimistic, because Chinese demand canprobably soak up 1,000 C919s, providing the aircraft performs reasonably well.The key performance target is an operating cost 10% below those ofcurrent-production 737s and A320s.

中国商飞公司预测产量为2200架C919,而最终稳定的速率为每年150架。研究该项目的高管称,实际总量将可能是预测的一半左右。他们没有看到较为悲观的理由,因为中国的需求或许可以消化1,000架C919,提供给该型飞机相当不错的表现。关键绩效指标是经营成本低于目前生产737和A320飞机的 10%。

The Chinese manufacturer is investing inadvanced automatic fabrication equipment, which should cut costs if keptrunning at an optimum level, as well as guarantee precision. Its new plantoutside Shanghai is mostly a final assembly line, however. Major airframemodules will come from Avic, whose efficiency and investment will thereforeheavily influence costs.


The quality of Avic's production may be anissue. Comac has been dissatisfied with ARJ21 assemblies from Avic, even thoughthat separate state group is quite capable of excellent work. For example, itproduces A320 outer wings, to Airbus's great satisfaction.


Comac is leaning toward aluminum-lithiumfor the skin of the C919 fuselage, but only in the cylindrical sections, sinceit does not want Avic to try making the difficult double curvatures of the noseand tail with an unfamiliar material. Comac is somewhat obliged to use theAlcoa metal, because it no longer has a composite center wing box but stillneeds to meet a government requirement for 30% advanced materials in theairframe. The tail and movable surfaces will be of carbon-fiber composite.


The design is currently overweight, says anexecutive familiar with development, but the problem is not considered serious.The cause is mainly in the weight of equipment, not the structure.


Assembly of the first prototype should beunderway by the end of 2014, assuming no further delays. A delay announced inAugust was the program's second; the first was not revealed officially but wasreported by Aviation Week (AW&ST June 17, p. 96).

假设没有进一步的延误,第一架原型机的组装应该是到2014年底进行。8月宣布延迟是该项目的第二架,第一架虽然没有正式透露,但已被《航空周刊》报道(《航空和空间技术周刊》 6月17日号,第96页)。

The C919's iron bird, a structure on theground on which systems are tested, was due to be operational around the end of2013 with mechanical and hydraulic systems. By mid 2014 it should be workingwith all systems.


The ARJ21, meanwhile, should now be in thelast of 12 years of development. The first two production aircraft are due tobe completed this month. Judging from recent progress in assembly at Comac'sold Shanghai factory, at least one of them will be.


ARJ21 production is said to be supported bya government order for 50 aircraft as official transports. Comac is alsoselling 30 of the type to itself; Chengdu Airlines, owned by the manufacturer,will be the first operator. Contracts with other airlines probably had littlebinding effect when signed and, following the enormous development delays, evenless now. Shortly after program launch, the ARJ21 was originally due to go intoservice in 2007.



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