Watch out Boeing and Airbus, this as China’s first domestically produced passenger aircraft flew on its maiden commercial flight on Sunday 28th May 2023.
China hopes the C919 commercial airliner will challenge foreign aircraft models like the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320. Asia and China are key targets for both Airbus and Boeing. Airbus already has a production line of A320s in Tianjin. The production line opened in 2008 and presently produces four aircraft a month. Last month, Airbus announced it would double its production capacity in China after signing a deal to build a second final assembly line in the northern city.
Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst, said the COMAC C919 offers a new option for Chinese airlines in the global aircraft sales arena. “The aircraft is comparable to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing B737 series and COMAC says it will break the duopoly of Boeing and Airbus. “
The China Eastern Airlines flight (MU 9191) departed Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and landed at Beijing Capital International Airport. To commemorate the flight, passengers received red boarding passes and enjoyed a sumptuous “themed meal”. The aircraft, with 130 passengers was welcomed with the traditional water cannon salute.
“Both the take-off and landing were as smooth as wide-body aircraft, and the whole flying process is terrific. The cabin is quieter than traditional narrow-body jets,” said Zhang Keli, a passenger from Beihang University in Beijing.
The commercial flight was the fulfilment of a dream. “COMAC will work on delivery of more aircraft to our clients to ensure more people can take our home-grown aircraft“, said Wu Guanghui, head designer of the C919 and chief scientist at Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC).
The C919 made its first experimental flight in 2017, with the first production aircraft delivered to China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai on Dec 9, 2022. Test flights, passenger operations’ verifications and other preparatory work continued before the first commercial flight was approved.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAA) confirmed that China Eastern was capable of operating C919 aircraft safely, and approved commercial operation of the jet.
“With the commercial operation and the delivery of more C919 jets, the home grown aircraft is hoped to drive the development of the aircraft manufacturing industrial chain,” said Lin, a senior columnist at one of China’s biggest civil aviation websites carnoc.com.
The first C919 aircraft will be put into commercial operation on a regular basis. The delivery of more C919 aircraft will see the carrier gradually expand its commercial services to more Chinese cities.
The second aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in mid-June 2023, with China Eastern receiving a total of three C919 aircraft.
COMAC has about 1,200 orders for the C919 and plans to increase annual production capacity to 150 aircraft within the next five years.
China’s first home-grown jetliner will cut the country’s reliance on foreign technology as ties with the West deteriorate. China has invested heavily in key technologies like aircraft manufacturing as it seeks to become self-sufficient.