DALLAS — The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) has made history by delivering the first-ever C919 to a passenger airline. The COMAC C919 is the first medium-haul passenger airplane designed and produced by a Chinese manufacturer.
The launch customer is China Eastern Airlines (MU), which in November 2010 placed an order for five units of the aircraft with 15 additional options. This specific aircraft, registered as B-919A, is less than one year old and has been flown before for COMAC as a demonstrator airplane for potential customers before joining the airline.
This delivery happened nine days after the approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for the mass production of the C919, for which COMAC has 600 aircraft on order, including letters of intention. In total, the Chinese manufacturer expects China’s domestic market to require more than 9,000 new airframes by 2040 to meet the rapidly growing demand for flights.
Li Yangmin, general manager of China Eastern, stated, “We will seriously assume the greatest political responsibility of the first aircraft to carry out the business operation of C919 in a cooperative, participatory, and hard-working manner to achieve safety, ambition, brand, and efficiency.”
COMAC’s Competition Possibilities
The C919 is a medium-haul brand-new airplane that is both esthetically and operatively very similar to the world’s two most successful passenger airplanes in the world: The Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families.
This would mean that if COMAC ever gains confidence from foreign airlines to purchase the airplane, there would be a new player in the short- and medium-range passenger aviation market worldwide.
However, there is a very long road ahead for the Chinese factory to achieve this milestone. This is because, even though the C919 has successfully gained type certification inside of China, no other foreign country in the entire world has approved the airplane for operation, mostly because of the safety concerns surrounding this new airplane.
However, in the domestic market of China, there could be still a chance for the C919 to shine brighter among the rest of the aircraft, as most of the government-owned operators of the country are showing slow moves towards the transition from the Airbus/Boeing duopoly to the COMAC C919.
Featured image: China Eastern Airlines