China’s First Homemade C919 Passenger Airplane Completes Flight Test

According to the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), at 6:52 on May 14, a C919 aircraft numbered B-001J took off from Shanghai Pudong Airport and landed safely at 9:54, marking the successful first flight test of the aircraft.

Since 2019, six C919s have carried out flight tests in Shanghai, Yanliang, Dongying and Nanchang, and carried out a series of ground tests and flight tests. In November, 2020, the aircraft obtained the Type Inspection Authorization (TIA), and officially entered into authority certification flight tests. At present, the flight test forensics and delivery preparations for domestic C919 aircrafts are progressing in an orderly manner.

The C919 large passenger aircraft system represents the key task for China to independently develop trunk passenger aircraft. A report shows that the first prototype completed final assembly on November 2, 2015 and made its first flight on May 5, 2017. However, it has been greatly delayed compared with the previous goal of passing airworthiness certification and delivery in 2017. In addition, the C919 was originally planned to be delivered and put into commercial operation in 2021. As the COVID-19 pandemic rebounds within China, the market is worried about its delivery progress.

Wu Yongliang, the vice general manager of COMAC, said at the beginning of the year that the C919 project is still in the airworthiness certification stage and is expected to be delivered in 2022. The overall impact of the pandemic is under control, and all work is reportedly progressing in an orderly manner.

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After signing a contract to purchase the aircraft last year, China Eastern Airlines disclosed on May 10 this year that the total amount of funds it plans to raise will not exceed 15 billion yuan ($2.2 billion), of which 10.5 billion yuan will be used to introduce 38 aircraft including four C919s. According to the announcement of China Eastern Airlines, the unit prices of domestic C919 aircraft and ARJ21-700 aircraft are $99 million and $38 million respectively – far lower than imported aircraft made by Airbus and Boeing, which have a unit price of about $300 million.

Zhang Chao, deputy director of the AVIC Securities Research Institute, said that all six test C919 large passenger aircraft have made their first flight, and it is expected that the first delivery will be completed in 2022, batch delivery will be realized in 2023, and the annual output of 50 aircraft will be achieved in 2025.