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China’s C919 jet edges closer to commercial use

THE ARTICLES ON THESE PAGES ARE PRODUCED BY CHINA DAILY, WHICH TAKES SOLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONTENTS

Zhu Wenqian
Thursday 01 September 2022 10:00 BST
A C919 passenger jet takes off for a test flight at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on May 14, 2022
A C919 passenger jet takes off for a test flight at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on May 14, 2022 (XINHUA)

China’s domestically developed C919 passenger jet has finished all of its test flights before seeking certificates to operate passenger flights, a sign the aircraft is approaching its commercial debut, industry experts say.

The debut of the home-grown aircraft is expected to push the development of China’s civil aircraft manufacturing industry into the fast lane, they said.

“The certification is expected to help accelerate the integrated growth of the aircraft manufacturing industry and the air transportation industry, and to further enhance the international competitiveness of China’s civil aviation industry,” said Zou Jianjun, a professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China.

The manufacturer of the C919, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), has said the aircraft model has completed all of its test flights. Earlier, six C919 prototypes had been undergoing intensive test flights in various weather conditions at the company’s testing bases.

The first C919 narrow-body passenger jet is expected to be delivered to China Eastern Airlines before the end of the year, Comac said. The company started manufacturing the first C919 aircraft in late 2019, and the work has made progress.

Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst, said that based on the experience of the ARJ21, the first domestically made regional passenger jet, which obtained certificates in 2014, it takes about a month between the completion of test flights and the certificates being issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

“Now, the C919 has entered the final stage before getting the three certificates required to operate commercial flights,” said Lin, who is also a columnist for Carnoc, a civil aviation website in China.

“First it needs to get a certificate that attests to the airworthiness of a particular category of aircraft. There is still some paperwork that needs to be done.”

In addition, the model needs to obtain a production certificate, and it needs to get the last certificate, or a permit, for commercial operation of passenger flights. Only after all three certificates are obtained can an aircraft model be put into commercial use, he said.

The C919 has 158 to 168 seats and a range of 4,075 to 5,555 kilometres. Its competitors include the single-aisle B737 of Boeing and the A320 of Airbus. So far, 815 intended and confirmed orders have been placed for the C919 from 28 Chinese and international customers.

At a later stage the C919 also needs to obtain airworthiness certificates from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States to operate internationally.

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