COMAC C919 completes first revenue flight in China

Passenger aircraft developed in the country for more than 14 years took off from Shanghai to the capital Beijing on Sunday, May 28

The wait was long, but China finally managed to make the first revenue flight with the C919, airliner designed entirely in the country.

The 164-seat two-class aircraft belonging to China Eastern Airlines (CEA) took off on Sunday from Shanghai (Hongqiao) bound for the capital Beijing on flight MU9191 at 10:33 am (local time).

The landing took place almost two hours later, concluding the historic flight of the COMAC jet, a state-owned manufacturer that became a competitor of Airbus and Boeing.

As expected, the inaugural flight was preceded by a ceremony attended by members of China Eastern, COMAC and CAAC, the Chinese civil aviation authority.

Images of the flight were shared on social media, showing passengers carrying Chinese flags and wearing face masks – the country’s government has maintained a stricter stance regarding the effects of Covid-19.

C919 first revenue flight (CEA)

Strong domestic demand

This is the end of a long soap opera that began in 2008 when COMAC presented the C919 project, an aircraft designed entirely in China, despite using many western components, such as the Leap-1C engine (CFM).

The entire development process has been difficult, with both ground and in-flight testing and disruptions caused by the pandemic.

C919 first commercial flight (COMAC)

The C919 used on the flight is so far the only one delivered by COMAC. China Eastern should receive another four jets from its initial order, but the start of commercial flights should speed up the production process as long as bottlenecks in the production chain are resolved.

Although COMAC intends to certify the C919 in other countries, this should not be a priority at this time. There is a strong domestic demand to be met before thinking about exports.

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The debut of the C919 is worrying news for Airbus and especially Boeing. If the jet is even minimally successful, future orders for the A320neo and 737 MAX will certainly become increasingly rare in China.


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