The COMAC C919 conducted its first flight on May 5th, 2017. Five years later, the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 rival is set to be certified before 2022 arrives. COMAC has been busy, with the company’s leadership highlighting that all staff on the program have been striving to reach certification and delivery goals.
A decade in the making
Production of the first prototype began in December 2011. Since then, six of these have been built, with the final one completing its maiden flight on December 27th, 2019. During this period, it had been expected that the plane would enter service in 2021. Yet, this estimate was before the pandemic shook up the industry.
Nonetheless, the progress of the introduction timeline didn’t seem to be too shaken up. In November 2020, The Shanghai Aircraft Airworthiness Certification Center of CAAC (SAACC) signed and issued the first Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) for C919 program. This meant that the plane had officially entered into “authority certification” flight testing. However, natural icing trials, which were set to take place in March 2021, have had to be postponed until fall.
Despite the setbacks, in March, C919 designer Wu Guanghui shared that he expects the plane to be certified before this year is over. Moreover, the first delivery is also expected this year.
The Boeing 737 MAX has returned to the skies in several key markets across the continents, but China still hasn’t given clearance to the plane after its long-term grounding. However, the country is now finally beginning 737 MAX validation flights. With the ball moving with this major validation project, the C919’s validation activity should be heading in a similar direction.
The C919 will be well spotted across the skies in China, with numerous key names lining up to take it on. For instance, in March, China Eastern Airlines officially signed a contract to purchase five units.
Overall, a total of 815 orders have been placed by 28 customers. China Eastern’s Big Three counterparts – China Southern and Air China will also deploy the C919, along with other powerhouses such as Joy Air and Hainan Airlines.
Altogether, COMAC is busy with the programs of two upcoming jets this decade. While the C919 is set to be a major player in China’s narrowbody sector, the CR929 is gearing up to disrupt the widebody market. With it being five years since the ARJ21 jet was introduced, COMAC will be keen to keep the momentum going in this next chapter.
What are your thoughts about the COMAC C919? Are you looking forward to the introduction of the plane? Let us know what you think of the aircraft and its prospects in the comment section.