On Friday December 9th, the world’s first COMAC C919, a Chinese-made narrow-body jet, was delivered to customer China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai. The plane made a 15-minute flight by three senior CEA pilots from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport to the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. The short flight was meant to celebrate the historic moment.
The aircraft, a rival to the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX, is expected to make its first commercial flight next spring, China‘s news agency Xinhua reported. The COMAC’s first inaugural route will be between Shanghai and the capital Beijing.
The C919 delivered to China Eastern has a 164-seat configuration that comes with a two-class cabin layout, including 8 business class seats and 156 economy class ones, according to Aviation Source news. In the economy cabin, the middle seat in each three-seat row is 1.5 cm wider than its neighboring ones, which offers more comfortableness.
With an aisle height of 2.25 meters, the plane comes with an efficient air filtration system, a passenger-centric lighting system and low noise. Besides, there are twenty 12” drop-down screens that can play 1080P videos.
The pre-production phase of aircraft took a long while. The first test flight took place in 2017, while its first commercial contract with CEA was signed in April of this year. It obtained its Type Certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on September 29th, 2022. According to CNN, it started mass production in November.
China Eastern said it plans to receive the remaining four orders for its first batch of C919s over the next two years, according to The Paper of Shanghai. The airline is the world’s first airline operator for C919. It has a fleet of nearly 800 airplanes.
Commercial Aviation Corp of China (COMAC) is expected to produce about 25 C919 aircraft per year by 2030, well below current monthly production rates of narrow-body aircraft from rivals, according to analysts at Jefferies.
The C919 relies heavily on Western components, including engines and flight control systems, from companies such as GE, Safran and Honeywell International. China is seeking to increase the proportion of domestic parts on the C919 and an alternative engine called the CJ-1000A is being developed.