China’s C919 Takes Off On First Flight

May 5, 2017

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China’s plans to tackle Airbus and Boeing’s dominance of the single-aisle jet market moved a step closer with the first flight of the C919 on Friday.

The maiden flight of the 168-seat C919, with five crew aboard, took off from Shanghai’s Pudong Airport and lasted an hour and twenty minutes.

The C919, manufactured by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) was initially scheduled for a first flight in 2014, but suffered a number of delays, with rollout of the first aircraft not happening until November 2015. Ground testing was completed in April in preparation for its maiden flight.

China’s desire to be more self-sufficient in aircraft supply has some way to go though, with C919 testing expected to take at least three years before airworthiness certification. It then has to gain certification from the FAA and EASA to fly in the US and Europe.

Boeing and Airbus are by far the largest suppliers of commercial aircraft. Boeing received net orders for 210 aircraft in the first four months of the year and delivered 221. Airbus delivered 182 aircraft in the year to end April, but received only 23 net orders.

With COMAC saying it has taken 570 orders for the C919, but firm orders probably a lot closer to a hundred, China still has some work to do.