On Friday, December 9, China Eastern Airlines took delivery of the first-ever Commercial Aviation Corp of China (COMAC) C919 narrow-body jet. The plane is in a 164-seat configuration and has “the world’s first C919” emblazoned on its side in Chinese and English.
Its maiden route will be between Shanghai and the China’s capital, Beijing. On delivery, the plane then took off for a short 15-minute flight to mark the historic occasion. Designed to rival the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle jets, China Eastern’s C919 is expected to enter into commercial service in spring next year, having received certification for safe operations in September this year and certification for mass production in November. This is the first of five C919s ordered by China Eastern with the remaining four due for delivery through 2024.
COMAC is anticipating ramping up delivery to 25 units per year by 2030. Additionally, COMAC is heavily reliant on parts and components from Western countries, together with flight control systems and engines, from the likes of GE, Safran and Liebherr Aerospace (integrated air management system). To reduce the level of dependence, China is actively looking to increase the number of domestically produced parts for the C919, while also building an alternative engine, the CJ-1000A which is currently under construction.