China’s own jet
C919 completes first passenger flight
05/28/2023, 09:55 am
In recent years, China has been developing its own passenger aircraft in order to become less dependent on western suppliers. The first C919 was delivered last year, and now passengers are allowed to board for the first time.
China’s first self-developed passenger jet has completed its maiden flight with passengers. State television showed the C919 taking off from Shanghai for Beijing early Sunday morning. The first commercial flight was completed in just under three hours with more than 130 passengers. The plane will then fly back to Shanghai.
The C919 is an aircraft the size of Airbus’ best-selling A320 and Boeing’s 737, and was built by the Commercial Aviation Corporation of China (COMAC) in hopes of providing serious competition to western aircraft manufacturers. But the 164-seater with a range of 4075 kilometers still relies heavily on Western components, including engines and the electrical and electronic equipment on board.
In 2022, after eight years of development, the first aircraft was delivered to China Eastern Airlines (CEA). The medium-haul jet has only one aisle between the rows of seats. According to China Eastern Airlines, it is characterized by low noise, lower carbon emissions and higher fuel efficiency compared to competing aircraft. The state-backed airline has ordered five aircraft so far. COMAC plans to produce 150 aircraft annually in five years. Western analysts, however, consider production of around 25 machines per year to be more likely around 2030.
According to its own statements, COMAC has already received more than 1200 orders for the C919. However, some experts assume that most of these orders are probably letters of intent from domestic customers. President Xi Jinping, who sat in the cockpit of a C919 model a few years ago, described the project as one of China’s most innovative achievements.