China’s COMAC C919 Makes Maiden Air Show Flight

The COMAC C919 has performed its first air show flight according to Chinese state-run media. The Xinhua News Agency reports that the single-aisle twinjet performed at the Nanchang Flight Convention located in the Chinese province of Jiangxi earlier today. Until this point, the aircraft had mainly been flying for test purposes as it works towards entry-into-service.

The COMAC C919 is designed to rival the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families of aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Performing at the Nanchang Flight Convention

Like many airshows, the Nanchang Flight Convention was a mix of aerial displays and on-the-ground exhibitions. The event is held at Yaohu Airport in Nanchang, the provincial capital of Jiangxi.

Filling the air so far have been various aerobatic teams as well as COMAC’s short-medium-haul narrowbody jet, the C919. Beyond COMAC, other aircraft companies taking part in the event and exhibiting their products include Diamond, Piper, and Leonardo.

This airshow takes place from October 31st to November 1st and seems to occur annually as the same event was also held last November. In fact, the 2019 Nanchang Flight Convention even included 800 drones flying in formation to create 3D representations of various aircraft, which can be seen in the video below:

This year the COMAC C919 performed on the first day of the exhibition. State media outlet Xinhuanet says that this is “the first such performance for the domestic passenger airplane.”

Of course, taking flight isn’t new for the C919. In fact, its successful maiden flight took place way back in 2017. Xinhuanet says that the aircraft has begun intensive test flights from various airports “to ensure it meets all airworthiness standards.”

Powered by GE Aviation

Earlier in 2020, the US was debating the denial of GE’s request to provide engines for the C919. Major engine manufacturer GE Aviation had requested approval to supply its CFM LEAP-1C engine for the Chinese jet. However, the deal was caught in the middle of an ongoing trade war between the US and China.

However, in April, GE was happy to confirm that it was approved to supply its LEAP-1C engine for the COMAC C919. The approval is expected to last for at least four years.

C919 model
COMAC has already successfully brought the ARJ21 regional jet (models pictured behind the C919) into service. Chengdu Airlines and China Southern are already flying the aircraft. Photo: Marc Lacoste via Wikimedia Commons 

“The COMAC C919 is designed to be an ‘international airliner with Chinese characteristics…This means an ability to match the quality and safety established by Boeing and Airbus, but also by incorporating the specific needs of the Chinese market: High-density, high-frequency missions with fast turnaround times from airfields with broadly varying levels of development.” -Cristiano Ceccato, director of Zaha Hadid Architects via CNN

CNN reports that the C919 has already accumulated 815 orders from 28 customers, predominantly Chinese airlines.

The C919 has a range of 5,555 km – or 3,540 miles. Photo: Ken Chen via Wikimedia Commons 

The C919 program is already a few years behind its initial plans. It is now believed that the jet will enter service in late-2021 or early-2022.

What do you think? Will the C919 be flying passengers a little over a year from now? Let us know in the comments.