The Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) has announced the launch of its C919 narrowbody powered by the CFM LEAP-X1C engine with up to 100 commitments.

Chinese lessor CDB Leasing and GECAS are among the launch customers. GECAS signed a letter of intent (LOI) to purchase up to 10 C919 aircraft. The LOI consists of five firm purchases, and options for five additional aircraft.

“GECAS is one of the leading aircraft lessors in the world and their order of the C919 is a vote of confidence in our product," comments Comac's chairman Zhang Qingwei.

GECAS President and CEO Norman C.T. Liu says: "We are pleased to announce our C919 LOI today. We look forward to a long association with the COMAC team as it continues to build China’s commercial aviation industry.”

The C919 model was also launched with orders from Chinese carriers Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

Half of the 100 orders are firm while the remaining are options, tells CAO's sister publication ATI Comac general manager Jin Zhuanglong. Air China, China Southern and China Eastern have ordered up to 20 C919s each, he adds. He did not give a detailed breakdown for the remaining orders.

The C919 is scheduled to have its first flight in 2014, with first deliveries scheduled for 2016.

Comac and CFM are nearing the completion of the joint definition phase and CFM is on schedule to freeze the LEAP-X design by the end of 2011 and the first full LEAP-X engine will go on test in early 2013.

COMAC has forecasted global sales of more than 2,000 C919 aircraft over the 20 years following entry into service.

Source: Commercial Aviation Online