Tibet Airlines to jointly develop plateau variant of C919 aircraft with COMAC
Published: Dec 17, 2023 09:36 PM
The C919 leaves for Hong Kong International Airport from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on December 12, 2023. Photo: cnsphoto

The C919 leaves for Hong Kong International Airport from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on December 12, 2023. Photo: cnsphoto

Tibet Airlines from Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region on Sunday signed a cooperation agreement with Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) in Shanghai to jointly develop a plateau variant of the C919 aircraft, according to the Tibet Airlines. 

Tibet Airlines and COMAC will co-establish a national level research center for the high-altitude operation of large aircraft, in order to push the operation and technological achievements of the ARJ21 and C919. 

The two pledged to enhance collaboration in brand building, talent training and executive exchanges.

During the signing ceremony, Tibet Airlines President Wei Boping said that the cooperation will accelerate the in-depth development of domestically developed aircraft, and promote the nation's aviation industry as well as Xizang's high-quality development. 

It will lay the foundation for the export of C919 aircraft to countries surrounding Xizang such as Nepal and other countries with high-altitude airports such as Mexico, Wang Yanan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Overcoming the extreme operating environment in the plateau area is an inevitable research field in the development of the C919 series aircraft, and China has many plateau airports in operation," said Wang.

C919 aircraft can adapt to plateau operation environment by optimizing its load capacity, control system and power system, he noted. 

During the China International Import Expo held in November, COMAC unveiled two special types of the C919 aircraft - a shortened or plateau variant that can carry 140 passengers and a stretched variant that can carry 210 passengers, according to Chinese media outlet Jiemian.

"Major aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus all have special variants for plateau conditions, and the cooperation between Tibet Airlines and COMAC will lift the commercial value of the C919 and other domestically developed aircraft in the global market," said Wang. 

The C919 aircraft was put into regular service by China Eastern Airlines in May. The airline has taken delivery of three C919s, based on an initial order for five signed in 2021. It signed another purchase agreement with COMAC in September for an additional 100 C919 aircraft.

In September, Brunei-based airlines GallopAir signed a deal to buy 30 C919s from COMAC, the first overseas order for China's domestically developed C919 jetliner.