The beginning of the revenue service of the Chinese airliner COMAC C919 should be quite modest. Customer of the launch of the aircraft, carrier China Eastern Airlines said in its first-half report released this week that it expects to receive just one unit of the new plane by the end of this year. Previously, the company had announced that it would receive three C919s.
Neither the Chinese airline COMAC commented on the reasons that led to the reduction in the forecast of deliveries of the C919 this year. However, it is not surprising that this can happen, after all the Chinese program accumulates a series of delays due to technical difficulties and problems in the supply of components imported from companies in the West.
So far, China Eastern has ordered five C919s, four of which will be delivered in 2023, according to the company’s report. The first aircraft destined for the company is already ready and made its first test flight in May this year.
Despite the expectation of being the launch operator of the first commercial jet entirely designed in the country, China Eastern is apparently in no hurry to receive the aircraft from COMAC.
In July this year, the company signed an order for 100 Airbus A320neo family jets, with deliveries starting in 2023, displacing the Boeing 737 MAX, which still remains grounded in the Chinese air market.
According to COMAC data, the C919 accumulates a total of 815 letters of intent to purchase from 28 customers, most of them Chinese companies.
Part of these orders must be converted into firm orders after the aircraft is certified by CAAC, China’s civil aviation regulatory agency, which is expected to grant the aircraft approval soon.
The C919 is designed to compete with the traditional Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, which are the best-selling commercial airliners in the world. The wait, however, has been long. COMAC’s single-aisle twin-engine aircraft has been in development for nearly 15 years.