First Pre-Delivery Test Flight for China’s COMAC C919

The first of COMAC’s C919 narrowbody airliners to be delivered flew its first flight Saturday, moving one step closer to entering service.

COMAC C919

COMAC’s first production C919. [Courtesy: COMAC]

China’s C919 twin-engine airliner has flown its first pre-delivery test flight, moving the new narrowbody type a step closer to entering service.

The three-hour flight took place Saturday at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (ZSPD), the main hub for launch customer China Eastern Airlines, according to the manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).

Representative of China’s nascent aircraft manufacturing industry, the C919 has been the focus of global attention since early in its development.

Pilots and engineers “completed all designed operations” during the test, COMAC said in a release. The airliner, registration B-001J, was in “good condition.”

The flight follows months of certification delays that reportedly have pushed the type’s expected entry into service into later this year, according to Aviation Week. A stock exchange filing by China Eastern revealed the price for the C919 was $99 million and COMAC’s regional airliner—the ARJ-21—was priced at $38 million, the magazine reported.

Those prices are much higher than expected and well above those of competing airliners such as Boeing’s 737-8 and the Airbus A320neo, according to Aviation Week. 

China Eastern Airlines has agreed to purchase five C919s, COMAC said. The jet seats from 158 to 174 passengers and is designed for a range of up to 5,555 km (2,999 nm). 

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.
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