The first mass-production C919 commercial jet is about to enter the final assembly line, the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) said. An image of the aircraft on the production line was shared on Chinese social media.
Produced by state-owned COMAC, the C919 is the most advanced commercial aircraft ever developed in China, but it suffered long delays in its program.
The first series C919 is expected to be delivered to China Eastern Airlines, which has five aircraft on order. The jet will debut at the OTT Airlines subsidiary. The forecast is that the aircraft will be ready by the end of the year, when local certification by the CAAC is expected.
The regulator also said it had approved adjustments to current production plans to allow for mass assembly of the aircraft.
Similar in design to the Airbus A320, the C919 can carry up to 168 passengers over distances of up to 5,500 km. This is an inferior performance to Western competitors, however, COMAC has the support of the communist government to raise hundreds of orders – according to manufacturer, there are 815 orders for the C919, from 28 customers, almost all Chinese.
The C919 does not use composite materials like its Russian rival, the MC-21, which makes it theoretically heavier. The initial variant is equipped with CFM’s Leap-1 turbofans, but China is already developing a local engine that should account for most of the aircraft to be manufactured.
Together with the ARJ21 regional jet and the Sino-Russian CR929 widebody, the C919 is part of the country’s effort to reduce dependence on Boeing and Airbus planes.