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C919:What is China’s home-grown passenger jet and can it compete with aviation giants Airbus,Boeing?

What is the C919? The C919 is a narrow-body passenger jet built by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), a state-owned company based in Shanghai.

The Chinese government formed Comac in 2008 to design and build the single-aisle C919. It is designed to compete with Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’ A320.

The C919 made its maiden test flight in 2017 and was certified to fly by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in September after 14 years of development.

Comac delivered the first C919 jet to China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai in December. The plane is designed to carry between 158 and 192 passengers.

How has the C919 been received?

China Eastern Airlines ordered four of the aircraft in May at a cost of US$99 million each. Comac has said it plans to deliver the rest of the orders within the next two years.

At China’s biggest air show in Zhuhai in November, Comac said it had secured orders from seven leasing firms for 300 planes, a little over a month after it was certified to fly.

By late 2022, Comac had received 305 orders for the C919 in China, while Boeing had only received 116 for its 737 series, according to a report from the Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics), a Berlin-based think tank.

Comac deputy general manager Zhang Yujin said in January the company had received more than 1,200 orders for the jet.

What is the outlook for the C919?

After being delivered to China Eastern Airlines in December, the C919 will undergo more than 100 hours of test flights, with stops in Shanghai, Beijing, Xian, Kunming, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Haikou, Wuhan, Nanchang, and Jinan, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The C919 began its flight validation process on December 26.

Upon completion, the plane will receive confirmation of its operational safety, maintenance reliability, and support capabilities.

Xinhua reported the C919 is expected to meet the rest of the requirements in the spring, after which it will be put into commercial operation.

Comac anticipates reaching an annual manufacturing capacity of 150 aircraft within five years.


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