A C919 aircraft, the new passenger jet model built by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), was originally scheduled to fly from Shanghai to Beijing and then to Hefei on February 1 as part of its “100-hour verification” procedure prior to official passenger flights. However, according to information circulated on Chinese social media, the plane did not arrive in Hefei as scheduled, but instead returned to Shanghai due to complications with its left-hand thrust.
The C919 is the first narrow-body passenger jet developed by China that meets international airworthiness standards and with independent intellectual property rights. It has been designed to compete with Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’s A320. It has 158 to 192 seats with a range of 4,075 to 5,555 kilometers.
Many new structural materials are used to build the C919. The total consumption of advanced materials represented by the third-generation aluminum lithium alloy and composite materials accounts for 26.2% of the overall weight of the C919. It also uses 3D-printed titanium alloy parts, thus reducing its weight, prolonging service life and improving its fuel economy.
The C919 completed final assembly on November 2, 2015, successfully made its first flight on May 5, 2017, won a certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China on September 29, 2022, and was delivered to China Eastern Airlines on December 9, 2022. On December 26 of last year, the aircraft began its 100-hour verification flights, which will last until mid-February.
Despite the issues experienced on February 2, at 17:10 on February 4, the C919 landed smoothly at Urumqi International Airport, marking the first long-range demonstration flight of the aircraft this year. This mission was mainly intended to evaluate cabin comfort. In 2023, it is planned to carry out long-route demonstration flights at Urumqi and Kashgar, two major cities in Xinjiang.
Some Chinese web users previously found that a flight operated by the C919 aircraft appeared on the app of China Eastern Airlines on February 28. They guessed that the flight might be the first commercial flight of the C919. Regard such speculation, the airline responded, “It has not been determined that the first commercial flight of C919 will be on February 28. The information found so far is a test.” However, the airline has confirmed that commercial operations involving the C919 will start this spring.
According to COMAC, annual production capacity of the C919 is planned to reach 150 units in the next five years, and more than 1,200 orders have already been placed. According to purchase agreements, the unit price of a C919 is $99 million, lower than the Airbus A320’s $100 million and the Boeing 747’s $150 million.