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The six largest cargo aircraft ever built in the aviation industry

We have listed the six largest aircraft ever constructed for freight transportation. These aircraft were all built in surprisingly short timelines, and limited numbers and were kept in good condition.

We have listed the six largest aircraft ever constructed for freight transportation. These aircraft were all built in surprisingly short timelines, and limited numbers and were kept in good condition.

1. Antonov An -225 mriya 

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The six largest cargo aircraft ever built in the aviation industry

Courtesy : Antonov

The largest cargo aircraft in the world at one time was the Mriya or Antonov An-225. During the most terrifying moments of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was regarded as an aviation wonder and looked to as a symbol of hope. However, on February 27, 2022, Russian forces were involved in a conflict with Ukraine and destroyed it. Mriya is a Ukrainian word that means “the dream.” Since it began operating in 1988. It will cost an estimated $3 billion to rebuild Mriya, according to Ukrainian aerospace and defense giant Ukroboronprom. The renovation, will be “time-consuming” and take more than five years.

With a 275-foot length, 288-foot breadth, and 59-foot height, the Antonov can accommodate six crew members. Additionally, it had six D-18T engines that were jointly constructed by Russia and Ukraine during the Soviet era. This aircraft can cruise at 850 km/hr.

Specifications

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  • Crew: 6
  • MTOW: 640,000kg
  • Maximum speed: 850km/h (460 kn)
  • Power plant: 6 x progress D-18T turbofans
  • Wingspan: 88 metres (288 ft)
  • Length: 84 metres (275 ft)
  • Height: 18.2 metres (59 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 800 km/h

2. Lockheed C-5 galaxy

The six largest cargo aircraft ever built in the aviation industry

Courtesy: Lockheed Martin

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft designed and built by Lockheed, and now maintained and upgraded by its successor, Lockheed Martin in 1970. It provides the United States Air Force (USAF) with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability and its maiden first flight in 1968. The current price of this aircraft is $167.7 million U.S. The C-5 is one of the biggest military aircraft in the world, and the C-5M Super Galaxy is an updated model with new engines and upgraded avionics that will extend its useful life until 2040 and beyond.

These four crew members are in charge of operating it. It is 247 feet in length, 222 feet in width, and 65 feet in height. Its maximum takeoff weight is 381 tonnes, and its maximum speed is 856 km/h. It is powered by four General Electric F138 turboprop engines, each of which is capable of producing 230 kN.

Specifications

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  • Crew: 7
  • MTOW: 840,000 lb (381,018 kg)
  • Maximum speed: 856 km/h (462 kn)
  • Power plant: 4 × General Electric F138-100 turbofan engines, 51,000 lbf (230 kN) thrust each
  • Wingspan: 67.89 m (222 ft)
  • Length: 75.31 m (247 ft)
  • Height: 19.84 m (65 ft)
  • cruise speed: 830 km/h (450 kn)

3. Super guppy

The six largest cargo aircraft ever built in the aviation industry

Courtesy: Super Guppy Aircraft

A big, wide-bodied cargo plane called the Super Guppy is used to transport huge cargo components.  Five were built in two variants, both of which were colloquially referred to as the “Super Guppy “and made its first flight in 1965.The Super Guppy is the only airplane in the world that has carried a complete S-IVB stage, the third stage of the Saturn V rocket. The Super Guppy performed this role several times during the Apollo program.

 

Super Guppy is a special aircraft with a length of 143 feet and a width of 48 feet that is operated by four crews. With a maximum takeoff weight of 77 tonnes and four Allison 501 turboprop engines, it had a total power output of 3,490 kW. and it is capable of 460 km/hr flight.

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specifications

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  • Crew: 4
  • MTOW: 170,000 lb (77,111 kg)
  • Maximum speed: 460 km/h (250 kn)
  • Power plant:  4 × Allison 501-D22C turboprop engines, 4,680 shp (3,490 kW) each
  • Wingspan: 47.63 m (156 ft)
  • Length: 43.84 m (143 ft)
  • Height: 14.78 m (48 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 410 km/h (220 kn)

4. Airlander 10

The hybrid airship known as Airlander 10 was created by the British company Hybrid Air Vehicles and known as the HAV 304. With four diesel engines driving ducted propellers, it flies utilizing both aerostatic and aerodynamic lift and is made out of a helium airship with auxiliary wings and a tail. For the Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle program of the US Army, the HAV 304 was first created. In 2012, it had its inaugural flight. Airlander 10 has a base price of $50 million, while models with full specs cost an additional $10 to $20 million.

The six largest cargo aircraft ever built in the aviation industry

Courtesy : Air Lander

The 302-foot-long and 85-foot-tall Airlander it is controlled by a single crew. in addition to having a maximum takeoff weight of 33.2 tonnes and a top speed of 148 km/h. It is driven by four 4-litre turbocharged diesel engines, each of which produces 242 kilowatts of power.

Specifications

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  • Crew: 1
  • MTOW:  33,285 kg (73,381 lb)
  • Maximum speed: 148 km/h (80 kn)
  • Power plant: 4 × 4 litre V8 turbocharged diesel engines, 242 kW (325 hp) each
  • Wingspan:  43.5 m (143 ft)
  • Length: 92 m (302 ft)
  • Height: 26 m (85 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 148 km/h (80 kn)

5. Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

A wide-body cargo aircraft with significant modifications to the Boeing 747-400 airliner is called the Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter. The enormous aircraft, nicknamed as the Dream lifter, was created to fly medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to carrying parts for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner between Italy, Japan, and the United States. Its first flight was in 2006. An estimated cost of the Boeing 747 dream lifter is $ 232 million – $ 261 million U.S.

Image Courtesy : Airbus – The Airbus BelugaXL, built to transport large aircraft pieces, took off on its first flight Thursday from France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport

Its length is 235 feet, and its height is 70 feet. It has a maximum take-off weight of 364 tonnes, can be operated by two crew members and is propelled by four Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines, each of which is capable of producing 282 kilotons of torque.

 

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Specifications

  • Crew: 2
  • MTOW: 364,235 kg (803,001 lb)
  • Maximum speed: 878 km/h (474 kn)
  • Power plant: 4 x PW 4062 turbofan (282 kN)
  • Wingspan: 64.4 m (211 ft)
  • Length: 71.68 m (235 ft)
  • Height: 21.54 m (70 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 878 km/h (474 kn)

 

6. Airbus Beluga XL

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The Airbus BelugaXL is a large transport aircraft based on the Airbus A330-200F built by Airbus to replace the original, Airbus Beluga move oversized aircraft components, such as wings. The aircraft made its first flight on 19 July 2018. The BelugaXL entered service with Airbus on 9 January 2020. The program cost is €1 billion for development and production.

It measures 207 feet in length and 197 feet in width. It can be handled by two crew members, has a maximum take-off weight of roughly 227 tonnes, and can cruise at a speed of 737 kilometers per hour. It is propelled by two Rolls-Royce engines, each producing 316 Kilonewtons of thrust.

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Specifications:

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  • Crew: 2
  • MTOW: 227,000 kg (500,449 lb)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.7
  • Power plant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Trent 700 turbofan, 316 kN (71,000 lbf) thrust each
  • Wingspan:  60.3 m (197 ft)
  • Length: 63.1m (207 ft)
  • Height: 18.9 m (62 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 737 km/h (398 Kn)

 

 

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Aviation

American Airlines Letter Sparks Outrage Over Flight Attendant Salary

American Airlines Launches 8 New Winter Routes to Latin America &Caribbean

An employment letter from American Airlines (AAL) has ignited a firestorm of controversy across social media platforms, shedding light on the stark reality of flight attendant salaries in the aviation industry.

Shared on Reddit and authenticated by the union representing American Airlines employees, the letter has drawn widespread attention for its revelation of starting salaries barely surpassing federal poverty levels.

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The actual letter AA gives new FAs when they move to NYC, Miami, Boston, Dallas etc.
byu/containment-failure inamericanairlines

Detailing the compensation package for new flight attendants, the letter discloses an hourly rate of $30.35 per flight hour, translating to an annual salary projection of $27,315 before incentives and taxes. This figure, notably below the poverty threshold for both individual and two-person households in 2024, has sparked outrage and disbelief among readers.

What further compounds the issue is the disclosure that flight attendants typically work between 65 to 85 flight hours each month, supplemented by an additional 50 hours dedicated to aircraft preparation before takeoff and after landing—tasks for which they receive no compensation.

This revelation underscores the significant gap between the demanding workload of flight attendants and the meager financial rewards they receive in return. The letter, designed for use in dealings with landlords and other service providers as proof of income, closes with a plea for understanding: “any courtesy you can provide would be appreciated.”

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This poignant appeal highlights the financial strain faced by many flight attendants who struggle to make ends meet on their current salaries. In response to these revelations, American Airlines flight attendants are mobilizing for action.

With negotiations underway for a new contract with the airline, which includes demands for higher pay, they are urging the White House to authorize their right to strike after a 30-day cooling-off period.

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Airlines

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

Welcome to a flight review on Singapore Airlines’ flagship Airbus A350-900ULR flight to New York’s John F Kennedy international airport. With a scheduled flight time of 18 Hours and 40 minutes, together with an average distance of 9,800 miles, this flight is so long that Singapore Airlines does not have a economy class cabin on it. This means that aircrafts which ply this route are specially configured, having only Premium Economy and Business class seats. This flight is also currently the world’s longest flight. 

Check-in

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I checked in at the mobile kiosk at Changi Airport Terminal 3. However, even though I was able to print out the baggage tags, I was not able to check-in my bags at the self check-in counter. Instead, I soon found out that travellers bound for the United States are supposed to proceed to the manual counters to check-in their baggage, due to the additional security measures imposed for flights bound to the United States. 
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Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy


Today’s flight is onboard 9V-SGG, a 2018 built Airbus A350-900 ULR Aircraft, specially modified to fly this route. The flight time onboard this flight would be approximately 17 hours and 15 minutes, with the Airbus A350 flying over the Pacific Ocean. 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

We took off from Singapore Changi Airport Runway 20C and landed at JFK Airport Runway 22L.

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Aircraft TypeAirbus A350-900ULR 
Aircraft Registration 9V-SGG
Flight Distance 9067nm
V1/Rotation Speed158/159kts
Take off Weight 273,857kg 
Cruise Altitude 35,000ft, then up to 41,000ft 

Boarding Process

Due to the unique configuration of our aircraft for today, boarding took place relatively quickly. Passengers were called to board by their class of travel, together with the airline loyalty program. Boarding took place so fast that within 20 minutes, all of us were in our seats, ready for the long flight to New York. 

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Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

Seats

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The seats in Premium Economy are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration, with the last 3 rows having a 1-4-1 configuration. 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

Meanwhile the seats in the business cabin are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving each seat a direct aisle access. 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

I am seated in Seat 40C, one of the 6 ‘solo’ seats on the Airbus A350, which means that I would not be having another seat beside me. Instead, what was in place of the other seat was a storage bin, which was rather helpful as I could easily store my carry-on bags right beside me, instead of in the overhead compartment. This also means that I would be able to retrieve any items in my carry on bags without requiring me to stand up. 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

The seats have a spacious width of 19.5 inches, offering a generous 38 inch of pitch, and offers a generous 8 inches of recline, resulting in a rather comfortable experience. There is a blanket and a pillow which could be found at every seat, and they were integral in ensuring that I had a comfortable journey onboard this ultra-long haul flight. 

The seats also came with a table lamp which is conveniently located at the left-hand of the seat, and was able to toggle between 3 different brightness settings. The tray tables are sufficiently big, which makes it easy for anyone who wishes to do some work onboard the aircraft. 

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The Flight 

Due to the slightly shorter flight time, we took off from Changi Airport in Singapore at a slightly later time of (time), so as to reach New York’s JFK airport on time. 

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Before take off, the cabin crew came around the cabin to offer each passenger a hot towel, a welcome gesture given the long flight. Furthermore, the cabin crew also came around confirming orders by passengers who have pre-booked their meals using the ‘Book the Cook’ option. Passengers could use the ‘Book the Cook’ option to pre-select the meals for the flight, and are offered a wider range of food choices, with over 20 different food choices from different cuisines being offered. This is a step up from the usual menu choices, where passengers are limited to the 2 menus offered onboard the flight per meal. 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy


Right after takeoff, we were served lunch, which consisted of either Pork Fricasse with Lentils or Thai Braised Beef Noodles. For me, since I used the ‘Book the Cook’ option, I got a Sake Teriyaki Set, which consisted of two pieces of salmon, with rice marinated in Japanese Teriyaki sauce. The dessert, which was Chocolate Orange Cake, was amazing, and ended the lunch service on a high note. 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

Singapore Airlines recently revamped their inflight menu services for Premium Economy, offering 175 new food items and an improved porcelain dishware. This revamp successfully managed to elevate the inflight dining experience, with the porcelain dishware and Champagne served shortly after takeoff giving a more ‘Premium’ feel for the in-flight experience. 

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After the lunch service, the crew dimmed the lights to allow us as passengers to get some well needed shut-eye. One of the unique features of the Airbus A350 is it’s Mood Lighting, which enabled the cabin crews to choose from multiple colour tones to encourage passengers to sleep.

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy


Amenity kits were available upon request. The amenity kit is also part of the Singapore Airlines Premium Economy service revamp. Consisting of a eye mask, lip balm and disposable slippers, the amenity kit was a collaboration between Singapore Airlines and Out of the Woods. The amenity bag is made with an eco-friendly, innovative Kraft paper fabric. 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

The shut-eye period is when the features of the Premium Economy Seat really stood out. With a generous recline angle of 8 inches, the seat proved to be well designed for everyone to get a significant amount of shut-eye onboard this ultra-long haul flight. Furthermore, there are two USB power outlets, and a power plug outlet should you wish to charge your electronic devices. 

After approximately 8 hours at 10pm Singapore Time, we were woken up for dinner. Once again, I pre booked a meal of Roasted Chicken Garlic Veloute Sauce through Book the Cook. The chicken and potato were well seasoned, and was served with a side of Citrus Tart and a salad. 

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Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy


Throughout the flight, there were various snacks available, ranging from cereal bars, peas and crackers, muffins, KitKats and even Instant Noodles. After the lunch service, the crew quickly set up a cart in the galley, where passengers could go and grab the snacks which they desired.

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

Instant Noodles were available on demand. The crew were also proactive in walking through the galley, serving drinks and snacks when requested. I got a turkey sandwich, which was rather filling and was an unexpected addition as I expected only basic snacks to be available. 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

Approximately 2 hours before the flight landed in New York, we were served a warm Mushroom Pizza as a pre-landing snack. Given that we were about to land in New York at evening time, this snack was appropriate to be served at this hour. Not long after, we soon started our descent into New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. 

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About an hour and a half before landing, we were served a pre-landing snack of a Pizza. Well, it was definitely not the best pizza I had, but definitely not the worst. I’ll leave it for you to judge the pizza 🙂 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy


Soon, our time on the World’s longest flight came to an end, as we made our approach towards New York. Our flight path brought us on a rather scenic view of New York City. What an amazing way to start my vacation in New York! 

Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

In flight entertainment

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The inflight entertainment has a sufficient amount of movies and TV shows, definitely sufficient to keep you entertained for the entire 18 hours of the flight. The screen was also rather responsive, and the brightness of the screen could also be modified according to personal preference. The screens were a staggering 13.3 inch, and could also be controlled with a remote control. Furthermore, Noise Cancelling Headsets were offered by Singapore Airlines, for the passengers to use to watch their movies in flight. This is definitely an upgrade from what is offered in their Economy Class Cabins, where passengers would only have a wired earpiece.

Singapore Airlines offers an extensive Inflight entertainment selection, with the latest movies and television shows which are offered onboard. Furthermore, the airline also offers free inflight WiFi to its customers who are Krisflyer members, the loyalty program of Singapore Airlines. This made the ultra-long haul journey rather bearable as passengers were now able to utilise the internet to access their emails, or even use their social media applications to stay in contact with their loved ones. For me, as an Avgeek, I used the Inflight WiFi to do some self-tracking on the FlightRadar24 application. 

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Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

One good feature of the flight was definitely the access to the in-flight map, together with a birds eye view of the places we were flying over. Singapore Airlines has this unique feature in their in-flight map, where we are able to see the ‘Heads Up Display’ from the comfort of our own screens. Furthermore, the Heads Up Display contains information about our flight, such as the Altitude and Airspeed. 

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Flight Review: World’s longest flight in Premium Economy

Cabin Service 

The immaculate cabin service would definitely be deserving of a shoutout from me — The crews were highly attentive and took initiative in offering passengers drinks. Multiple times through the flight, the crews could be seen walking down the aisle with a tray of water, apple and orange juice, offering it to any passengers who requested it. Furthermore, the crews were highly professional and warm, greeting each passenger by their surnames and even taking time to confirm the pre-booked orders with the passengers. 

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And with that, the time passed in a blink of an eye on the world’s longest flight. This flight certainly felt way quicker than some of the medium/long haul flights which I flew before. Would I do it again? Definitely! 

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Aerospace

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777


China’s Comac aircraft company is currently underway with the development of its own wide-body aircraft, the C939, positioned to compete with industry stalwarts like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 in the future. This strategic move by Comac involves crafting the next iteration with enhanced capacity and extended range capabilities, marking a significant leap forward in technological advancement compared to the current C919 aircraft.

Air China has inked a substantial deal worth a staggering $10.8 billion, based on list prices, to acquire 100 Comac C919 jets, signaling a strong vote of confidence in the domestic challenger to aerospace giants Airbus and Boeing.

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China Comac C919 Total Order

With both China Southern and Air China combining orders for nearly 200 aircraft, the prospects for the new C919 aircraft appear increasingly promising for future fleet growth. To date, Comac has garnered orders for nearly 1,100 aircraft.

China is contemplating the development of another wide-body aircraft, the C939, poised to significantly bolster the aerospace industry in China.

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COMAC has initiated work on the C939, a new wide-body airliner. While design concepts have been formulated, it will still take several years before a prototype materializes, according to reports from the South China Morning Post, citing anonymous sources.

Initially intended to be a joint venture with Russia, plans were halted due to Russia’s decision to safeguard its copyrights and technological advancements within its borders. Consequently, collaboration between China and Russia on aircraft development was discontinued. Sources suggest that China is vigorously pursuing new avenues for the independent development of its own wide-body aircraft, crucial for accommodating larger passenger capacities and extended flight ranges.

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Comac C939 competes with Boeing 777 and A350

Information regarding the program remains limited. COMAC has refrained from commenting on the development of the new aircraft type, stating that official announcements will be made in due course. Nevertheless, the C939 could potentially accommodate up to 390 passengers, positioning it to compete with the largest Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.

In addition to the prospective C939, COMAC is already advancing with the development of another widebody aircraft, known as the C929. This aircraft is poised to rival the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330, boasting 280 seats and a range approaching 6,500 nautical miles.

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Since obtaining certification in late 2022, the COMAC C919 has been operational, accumulating nearly 1,000 firm orders, predominantly from Chinese-owned airlines and leasing companies.

With multiple widebody aircraft in the pipeline, COMAC stands to achieve parity with the two leading international aircraft manufacturers. Boeing, with its 777 and 787 models, and Airbus, with the A330neo and A350, both have a comparable range of offerings. However, Boeing’s aircraft are encountering delays and production challenges despite substantial orders, while the A350 is performing commendably, though the A330neo’s order intake has not met initial projections.

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How much does C919 cost?

China is under pressure to fulfill the current orders for the C919 aircraft, prompting plans to expand production facilities across various regions within the country. The aim is to ramp up production capacity for C919 planes to 150 aircraft annually over the next five years. The latest reports indicate that the C919 is priced around $99 million, comparable to the price of Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320 aircraft, with expectations for further price reductions in the future.

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While the C919 has yet to be certified in major aviation markets outside of China, only four have been delivered thus far. In the long term, COMAC’s widebody aircraft will vie for global competitiveness. One potential benefit of COMAC aircraft could be in reducing China’s reliance on Western aircraft manufacturers. However, this shift won’t happen immediately; the current delivery rate of four aircraft in nearly 18 months is not sustainable, and both Airbus and Boeing have established manufacturing facilities in China to cater to its sizable market.

Nevertheless, assuming COMAC addresses the issues impeding deliveries, there’s a plausible scenario where the manufacturer assumes a significant role, particularly as China’s aviation market continues to expand.

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As the C939 progresses through its development stages, more details are expected to emerge. Comparisons between official specifications of the C929 and C939 will be noteworthy, as will the initial orders for each aircraft type. However, it’s anticipated that neither will undergo test flights or enter into service for several years.

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