China Eastern has now conducted its maiden commercial flight with the airline’s new COMAC C919 aircraft.
Maiden Commercial Flight
On 28 May 2023, China Eastern Airlines completed its maiden commercial flight of the C919 as the aircraft now enters regular commercial service for the airline.
The flight, with number MU9191, operated from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport to Beijing. After almost 2 hours 30 turnaround, the aircraft performed the returned sector.
According to data from FlightRadar24, the aircraft operated on schedule. The flight reported to have approximately 130 passengers on board.
The aircraft, B-919A, has its next scheduled flight on Monday 29 May between Shanghai and Chengdu.
As is often tradition, the flight received a water salute from the fire brigade.
The first flight follows a series of verification flights, as is customary with new aircraft, before it entered commercial operations. The aircraft had to perform around 100 hours and so operated several routes across China. The aircraft visited Chengdu, Nanjing, Taiyuan, Huai’an, and Beijing in the last week alone.
The C919 was created by the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC). It performed its first experimental flights in 2019 and the first was delivered to China Eastern on 09 December 2022.
China Eastern’s aircraft has a cabin configuration of 164 seats across two classes – eight seats in business class and 156 seats in economy class.
The aircraft is comparable to the narrowbody heavyweights of the Airbus A320 and the Boeing B737 series. The COMAC‘s C919 is designed with the intention of breaking the duopoly of America’s Boeing and Europe’s Airbus narrowbody markets.
The Airbus A320 family is the most successful aircraft family sold and, as reported in 2021, accounted for over 65% of the global narrowbody utilisation. Second was the Boeing 737 which had experienced issues due to the grounding of the MAX.
China is a critical market for narrowbody aircraft, reportedly accounting for a fifth of total global sales, so a home-grown manufacturer gaining a foothold will no doubt
China Eastern will be taking delivery of four more C919 aircraft this year. The second aircraft with factory registration B-001K performed its maiden flight on May 8 and has done two more test flights on May 10 and 18.
The HNA Group, which owns Hainan Airlines and other Chinese carriers, also announced a firm order for sixty C919s on 28 April 2023. 30 aircraft each will go to its subsidiaries Urumqi Air and Suparna Air.
COMAC has now reportedly had around 1,140 orders, options, and purchase rights for its new narrowbody aircraft. Its firm orders are now around 580-600.