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C919 project at 'crucial point' in detailed design

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) has completed the joint definition phase of its C919 narrowbody twinjet, as orders for the type rise to almost 200.

With the completion of the preliminary design, the manufacturer has entered a "crucial point" in the detailed design phase, said Comac leaders at a C919 project meeting on 24 November.

Although they did not elaborate on the aircraft's development progress, they plan to wrap up the detailed design phase in 2012 to ensure the aircraft can conduct its first flight in 2014. The leaders added that development work for the C919 had gone smoothly this year.

Comac had previously said it aimed to have first metal cut for the C919 in December 2011.

The manufacturer, in the past month, has received three major commitments for its aircraft, which is being developed in China as a possible competitor to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families.

China's Bank of Communications Financial Leasing sealed an order for 30, after Sichuan Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding for 20 C919s in October. Chinese leasing company ICBC Leasing had earlier inked an order for 45.

This takes the total order backlog to 195. CFM International is providing its Leap-1C engine for the twinjet, with Nexcelle as the nacelle and thrust-reverser supplier.

CFM stated in mid-November it was in the "final stages" of the joint design phase to define functional and mechanical interfaces and "optimise" the C919's integrated propulsion system.

Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, CDB Leasing Company and lessor GECAS have all committed to taking the aircraft.

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