First COMAC C919 For China Eastern Enters Final Assembly

The first COMAC C919 jet, destined for launch customer China Eastern Airlines, is set to enter final assembly. The aircraft will be assembled roughly a decade on from the production of the prototype in late-2011. The first C919 is now set for delivery to China Eastern by the end of 2021.

First COMAC C919 For China Eastern Enters Final Assembly
The C919 launch customer will be China Eastern Airlines, which will accept delivery later this year. Photo: Getty Images

First COMAC C919 in final assembly

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Chinese plane manufacturer COMAC has entered the first C919 jet into final assembly. COMAC is now set to make good on its target of delivering the first C919 by the end of 2021.

While COMAC has yet to comment on the CAAC’s announcement, pictures on Chinese social media site Weibo show the aircraft’s fuselage is almost complete. Additionally, the China Eastern livery was seen on the plane’s tailfin.

First COMAC C919 For China Eastern Enters Final Assembly
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) made the announcement yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

Despite significant delays in the C919 program, COMAC hopes to deliver the first plane this year and obtain production certification to mass-produce the plane. It is also still in the process of acquiring its airworthiness certificate, which it expects to go through by the end of the year.

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China Eastern is the launch customer

The launch customer for the C919 is China Eastern Airlines, which has an order for five C919 jets. In March, the airline confirmed that its new C919s would be operated by its subsidiary, OTT Airlines.

The jets will be stationed in Shanghai and fly to other major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Xiamen. OTT Airlines is China Eastern’s low-cost subsidiary which operates affordable domestic flights.

According to reports, China Eastern will take delivery of its first aircraft this year before receiving two more in 2022. The final two C919s on order are expected for delivery in 2023.

COMAC, C919, Airbus Competition
China Eastern has an order for five C919s which it expects fulfilled by the end of 2023. Photo: Getty Images

There are over 300 orders and commitments for the C919 from a mix of airlines and leasing companies. The COMAC C919 program was established in 2008, before production on the prototype began in December 2011.

Certification board meeting

The CAAC’s C919 certification board met in Shanghai on Friday to review COMAC’s reports on batch production. The C919 has yet to receive certification from China’s aviation authority, with COMAC expecting to secure certification by the end of the year.

COMAC C919 taxiing icing test
A CAAC board met to review the C919s certification status last week. Photo: Getty Images

The board also approved of tweaks to the aircraft’s production certification proposals without going into the details. This certificate is necessary for the C919 to enter into mass production. Presently, the aircraft is being produced on a more limited batch production basis. With over 300 orders to be fulfilled, COMAC expects to receive the production certificate within the year.

Do you think the COMAC C919 will prove to be a success? How many C919s do you think will be in service by 2025? Let us know your insights and opinions in the comments.