China’s C919 completes long-haul test flight


The C919 passenger jet, manufactured by COMAC, completed its first long distance test flight on November 10, 2017. The plane took off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 11:38 am and flew to Yanliang Testing Base in Xi’an (Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province) for further testing.

The C919 flew at a height of 7,800 meters and completed the 1,400-km journey in less than three hours. Following the first test flight in May 2017, this long-haul journey marks the fifth test flight. This plane is the first of six test planes COMAC – the Shanghai-based Chinese state-owned aircraft manufacturer – intends to make. The second test model is to take off for the first time by the end of 2017, Xinhua reports.

The C919 is yet to obtain the certification by both the Chinese and the European aviation safety regulations. However, despite the seemingly smooth testing of the plane, some analysts have doubts about the plane’s capabilities because of the long time gaps between the test flights, Reuters points out.

C919 is the first passenger plane made in China. Designed to compete with industry staples Airbus 320 and Boeing 737, C919 aircraft has a layout of 158 to 168 seats, and a range of 4,075 to 5,555 kilometers. The first aircraft rolled out in November, 2015 and had its first test flight in May, 2017.

In September 2017 COMAC announced signing commitments for a total of 130 C919 airplanes for 4 different Chinese leasing companies.  With the initial 45 jets ordered back in 2012, the COMAC’s C919 order book is now consistent of 730 planes from 27 customers.

The follow-up model – C929 – was announced in 2011 and could be introduced in 2025, with its maiden flights and first deliveries taking part in 2025-2028. The C929 will be a 250-to-280-seat wide-body twinjet airliner aimed to compete with larger (and more profitable) analogs from Boeing and Airbus – the B747 and A340. It will be built together with Russia and will rely on Western technology less than its narrow-body predecessor.

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