Comac, China’s state-owned commercial aircraft manufacturer, has entered into a partnership with Tibet Airlines to collaborate on the development of a Chinese-made airliner specifically designed for high-altitude plateau operations.
This initiative marks Tibet Airlines as the first carrier in China to engage in the creation of a variant of the narrow-body aircraft. As part of the agreement signed in Shanghai, the two entities will establish a national-level research center focused on the high-altitude operation of large jets.
The primary objective is to promote the operational capabilities and technological advancements of Comac’s existing ARJ21 and C919 aircraft models. The proposed C919 plateau variant is tailored for airports situated at high altitudes and is designed to accommodate 140 passengers, 28 fewer than the standard model.
With a range of 3,000 kilometers, a prototype of the aircraft was showcased at the China International Import Expo and the Shanghai International Commercial Airshow earlier this year. The C919 plateau variant, at approximately 34 meters in length, will be 3.6 meters shorter than the basic C919 model but will retain standard wings and engines.
This specialized model aims to address the unique requirements of air transport in western China and is well-suited for plateau airports. Comac asserts that it is not only adapted to challenging environmental conditions but is also cost-effective. Wang Yanan, the chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, highlighted that this development will establish a foundation for the potential export of C919 aircraft to countries neighboring Xizang, such as Nepal, and other nations with high-altitude airports like Mexico.