COMAC announces end of C919 test flight phase

Chinese airliner equivalent to the A320 and the 737 would be close to receiving certification in the country

COMAC gathered the six test aircraft of the C919 jetliner last week to announce the completion of the test flights. Now the Chinese state-owned manufacturer is waiting for the type certification to be issued by the regulatory authority CAAC.

With lines similar to the Airbus A320, the C919 is the biggest bet of the Chinese aeronautical industry to supply air travel as an indigenous aircraft.

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But the development program has suffered several setbacks, despite government support. Launched in 2008, the C919 was supposed to enter service in 2014, but only had the first test aircraft completed the following year.

The inaugural flight took place in 2017, however, until the end of last year, 88% of the flight tests needed to be carried out for certification.

The C919 depends on several western components, including the Leap-1C engine, supplied by CFM (a joint venture between GE and Safran). However, the US government claimed that China was using the partnership with US and European companies to copy technology.

The CJ-1000A turbofan engine, for example, would have been designed based on illegally obtained designs. The Chinese government denies.

Despite delays and problems, the C919’s future is assured. The COMAC aircraft has already received 815 purchase intentions from 28 customers, the absolute majority of Chinese airlines.

The first operator of the up to 174-seat aircraft will be OTT Airlines, a subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines, which has signed a contract for five jets.

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