DALLAS – According to a statement released by the state-owned firm on July 23, COMAC has concluded all flight tests of its narrow-body C919 aircraft. The type is awaiting certification for China’s newest commercial airliner.
Per the announcement, a progress meeting for the program was held on July 19 at Weinan Airport (XIY) following the conclusion of the test program for six C919 prototypes.
“The six C919 test aircraft successfully finished all of the flight test activities, signaling that the C919 forensic work has formally joined the final phase and has begun charging at the evidence collection with full effect. This was emphasized during the meeting. The translation of the statement reads, “This is a significant stage win obtained by the C919 big passenger plane under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core.”
Flight Tests Halted by COVID
On May 5, 2017, the C919 flight tests commenced. Engineers soon discovered several structural problems with the engine mountings and tailplane that needed adjustments. As a result, the test campaign moved quite sluggishly. It was further complicated by COVID-19 in early 2020 when China entered a state of lockdown.
Four test aircraft were stuck in X’ian’s Yanliang test center at the start of this year as a result of new, extremely strict Covid regulations brought about by the appearance of Omicron. Before restarting fully in May, testing was limited to Dongying and Changzhi and required 240 flying hours to be certified.
The first operational plane scheduled for China Eastern Airlines took off on May 14. By the end of 2021, the airline had intended to get the aircraft. It is unknown when China Eastern will launch C919 operations.
According to statistics from Flight Aware, aircraft B-001A and B-001D last left X’ian on June 16, B-001C last left Changzhi on April 28; B-001E left X’ian on June 14; B-001F last left Wuhan on July 8; and B-001G last left X’ian on June 8. However, COMAC published a promotional film that featured all six C919s lined up on the runway at an unidentified airfield, ready for a shoot.
The COMAC C919 Aircraft in Detail
The narrow-body COMAC C919 offers a 158-seat, two-class cabin configuration as well as 168 and 174 seats in a single-class configuration. Additionally, the type offers “a dynamic cabin layout with maximum seats of up to 192 in accordance with diverse clients’ expectations,” according to a COMAC C919 brochure.
The range of the C919ST standard model is 2.200 nautical miles (nm), or 4.074 kilometers. The C919ER extended range model has a range of 3.000 nm or 5.556 kilometers. The ER version’s maximum takeoff weight is 78.900 kilograms, whereas the normal version is 75.100 kilos. The CFM LEAP-1C, which is based on the -1A engine that powers the Airbus A320neo, is used to power the aircraft.
At the Farnborough Airshow last week, COMAC had a very small booth and displayed only a few flyers and posters. Again, t the time f this writing, there’s no word on the type’s certification date.