First COMAC C919 For Customer Conducts Maiden Test Flight

A COMAC C919 climbs after takeoff
Photo Credit: COMAC

WARSAW – The first C919 aircraft to be delivered to China Eastern Airlines completed a successful maiden test flight on May 14, according to information COMAC.

The C919, being built by Chinese state-owned aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC), will be a milestone in a program already 11 years in the making to compete with aircraft produced by Airbus and Boeing.

COMAC hopes to obtain the type certificate, which certifies that the aircraft is fit to fly commercially with passengers, in the coming weeks.

China’s indigenously-developed jet, with reg. B-001J took off at 6:52 AM from Shanghai Pudong International Airport and landed at the same site at 9:54 AM.

During the flight that lasted three hours and two minutes, pilots and engineers coordinated to complete all designed operations, and the plane was in perfect condition, said COMAC.

In March last year, China Eastern Airlines and COMAC signed a purchase contract for five C919 planes, which will be based mainly in Shanghai after delivery.

Delayed C919 program…

As we know, delays are fairly common in aerospace programs of recent years, but the particularly slow progress on the C919 is a major embarrassment for China, which has invested heavily in its first serious attempt to break Airbus and Boeing’s monopoly in the global narrow-body aircraft market.

According to four people familiar with the matter, reached by Reuters, the machine’s latest problem boiled down to a mathematical error. COMAC engineers miscalculated the forces exerted on the aircraft’s engines during flight and sent inaccurate data to the engine manufacturer, CFM International.

As a result in 2020, the engine and its casing required additional reinforcement.

COMAC, which has been working rather mysteriously on the C919 since 2008, very rarely reveals its plans and progress on the program.

The company’s previously publicly stated target for certification was the end of 2020.

Other COMAC representatives have said they aim to achieve certification and deliver the first machine by the end of 2021, which will go to China Eastern Airlines. Now we know that finally it should be done this year.

About the C919…

The COMAC C919 is a twin-engine jet that, depending on its configuration, will be able to accommodate between 150 and nearly 200 passengers, and has been specified to have a range of between 4,000 and 5,500 km, depending on the version.

It will also be a direct competitor to the world’s most popular passenger aircraft – Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. C919 will be powered by CFM International LEAP-1C engines.

The company plans to expand the project with new enlarged and downsized variants of the aircraft, as well as cargo and VIP versions.

By 2035, the manufacturer plans to capture a third of China’s narrow-body aircraft market share and a fifth of the global market.

It is estimated that China could take delivery of around 5,000 new aircraft worth a total of $670 billion over the next 20 years.

Since 2019, six C919 jets have conducted a series of ground and flight tests in places such as Shanghai, Yanliang, Dongying, and Nanchang.

As of 31 August 2020, FlightGlobal counts 307 orders plus 45 options and 658 letters of intent in a total of 1010 commitments.

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