The COMAC C919 is China’s answer to the Boeing-Airbus duopoly

Test Flight Completed Before Delivery

China’s COMAC C919 completed its pre-delivery test flight on Saturday, taking off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport and returning after three hours of flight. The aircraft, registered B-001J, is due to be delivered to China Eastern Airlines once it has passed all its safety checks. COMAC say its pilots and engineers “conducted all the required tests” for the aircraft’s flight, concluding that the plane was in “good condition”.

COMAC C919 test flight take off
C919 taking off | © COMAC

The new plane is a project by China’s answer to Airbus and Boeing: the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). China hopes to break the duopoly held by the two manufacturers with the C919, designed as a rival to the Boeing 737 or the Airbus A320. China Eastern Airlines will be their first customer, having signed an agreement to purchase five of the jets back in March 2021. The delivery date has not yet been released, but COMAC says things are “progressing in an orderly manner”.

Technical Difficulties for COMAC

The first C919 was meant to enter commercial service in 2016, but the project has been delayed several times due to technical difficulties and supply issues. The first C919 test flight was conducted in 2017, and six more C919s have operated test flights since 2019. The company says they are aiming for local certification by 2022.

COMAC C919 in flight
Production has been delayed by several years | © Wikimedia commons

The price of the C919 compared to its Boeing and Airbus counterparts was meant to be a key selling point. COMAC originally pitched the aircraft at around $50 million, around half the price of the A320neo. However, a stock exchange filing by China Eastern revealed they were paying $99 million for the new jet, a far less competitive price.

Do you think the C919 will be a reasonable competitor to the A320 and 737? Let us know in the comments below!

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