Comac C919 one step closer to commercial flights

China’s domestically developed passenger aircraft, Comac C919, reached another milestone on the 27th December 2019. The aircraft’s sixth prototype completed it’s first test flight in Shanghai.

What could be a serious challenger to Boeing and Airbus in the future the Chinese jet is making steady progree in their development phases. The maiden flight of the Comac C919 lasted two hours , five minutes. Deemed a success this has moved the aircraft on with all prototypes now in heavy testing.

What is the Comac C919

The Comac C919 is a narrow bodied twinjet airliner, developed by Chinese aerospace manufacturer Comac. The development programme launched in 2008 with the first prototype produced in 2011. The first incarnation of the C919 rolled out in 2015 with it’s maiden flight in 2017.

The first commercial delivery is expected in 2021 with China Eastern Airlines being principle purchaser. In the initial roll-out the aircraft will service China itself with 305 confirmed orders, mainly from Chinese airlines.

Comac, Commerical Aircraft Corporation of China, Exhibiting at Singapore Airshow
Comac exhibiting at the Singapore Airshow 2019

What Western aircraft does it rival

The dimensions of the C919 are fairly similar to the airbus 320. Some have speculated this may allow for common use of ULD’s between aircraft. The main issue for the aircraft though appears to be how far behind the modern designs the aircraft is. Some speculate the design matches the Airbus 320 of 10-15 years ago.

You would imagine though that once the aircraft is in operation the gap will narrow. It’s present range of 2,200 – 3,000 nautical miles falls short of rivals.

Gaining the airworthiness certification is now the most important task for the C919.

Lin Zhijie, independant analyst based in Xiamen

China’s massive, apidly growing civil aviation market could hold the key to the C919’s success. Over the next two decades in China demand is expected to reach 9,205 planes with more than 50 seats. This could well play into the C919 from Comac’s hands.

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