As the 2023 Spring Festival wound down, China’s first domestically-made large jetliner C919 took its first flight on January 28 from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport to Nanchang Changbei International Airport in Jiangxi Province. It is expected to start carrying passengers in March this year.
This flight was meant to simulate and verify the operational process of the whole flight, including dispatch and release, passenger boarding, pilot operation, maintenance, etc.
On December 9, 2022, China Eastern Airlines, the world’s first user of the C919, officially received the plane. The 100-hour verification flight started on December 26 last year and, up to now, has been carried out in 9 cities and 10 airports, waiting for the final validation and inspection of the results by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. It is estimated that the verification flight will be completed in early February this year. By then, the C919 will appear on boutique routes in Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, Kunming, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shenzhen.
At present, China Eastern Airlines has trained 9 pilots, 24 flight attendants and 13 maintenance personnel for the aircraft. Together with the second batch of key post personnel being trained, the number of personnel for C919 aircraft is enough to meet the initial verification flight requirements. For the C919, China Eastern Airlines selected captains and flight instructors of various branches of its operations.
Chinese media outlet Time Finance quoted one civil aviation expert as saying that the official delivery of the C919 is a milestone, indicating that domestic large aircraft has finally entered the commercial operation stage after a lengthy process involving development, manufacturing, flight tests and data collection. The person in charge of C919’s avionics system’s research and development said, “C919’s delivery will promote the industrialization process of China’s large aircraft, and it is expected to open a three-pronged pattern with Airbus and Boeing in the future.”
Nigeria’s aviation minister said in October last year that the country would consider purchasing C919 aircraft to join its aviation fleet, which is still in the preparatory stage.
In November 2022, a forecasting annual report released by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (COMAC) pointed out that in the next 20 years, China’s air transport market will deploy 9,284 jetliners, including 958 regional aircraft, 6,288 single-aisle passenger planes and 2,038 dual-aisle passenger planes. By 2041, China’s fleet will have 10,007 planes, accounting for 21.1% of the global passenger aircraft fleet. China will become the largest single aviation market in the world.