The world’s first C919 airliner, a Chinese-made narrow-bodied jet, was delivered to its launch customer China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai recently. The aircraft, a rival to the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle jet series, is expected to make its maiden commercial flight in the spring of 2023. The aircraft was certified for safe operations in September and mass production in November 2022.
China Eastern commented that it plans to receive the remaining four of its first batch of C919 orders over the next two years. The C919 currently has advance orders totaling 815 aircraft from 28 customers.
Metrology Assisted Assembly
The assembly of the C919 passenger aircraft in Shanghai uses Hexagon Metrology laser trackers for assisted assembly. With the Leica Laser Tracker, the forward fuselage and the main fuselage are brought together accurately via an established assembly process.
Innovative Nacelle System
A key element in the C919 nacelle system’s innovation is its translating O-Duct thrust reverser. The large single-piece composite O-Duct replaces the two-piece ‘D’ doors on traditional thrust reversers, enhancing the internal airflow path and improving fuel consumption – while also increasing thrust reverser efficiency when deployed.
The O-Duct’s deployment is performed with an evolved electrical thrust reverser actuation system (ETRAS), replacing heavier hydraulics that typically are used in thrust reversers, while also improving maintainability.
Another innovation on the LEAP-1C nacelle is the fan cowl – which is structurally integrated to the engine, along with an integrated mounting system for the nacelle that reduces engine distortion and enhances on-wing performance. Additionally, the nacelle incorporates an extensive use of lightweight and state-of-the-art noise-attenuating composite materials.
Based on Nexcelle’s work-sharing arrangement with its two parent companies, Middle River Aerostructure Systems is responsible for supplying the nacelle’s inlet, fan cowls, inner fixed structure and engine mounts. The C919 nacelle system’s lead industrial role is assigned to Safran Nacelles, which developed and supplies the O-Duct thrust reverser. Safran Nacelles also brings its ETRAS expertise for use in the O-Duct’s deployment.