The first flight-ready COMAC C919 aircraft has been delivered to China Eastern Airlines. Received on December 9, the airline marked the milestone occasion with a 15-minute test flight over Shanghai.
The C919 is the first Chinese-developed passenger jet to be manufactured in compliance with international standards. It’s poised to compete with Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 when the airframe enters service early next year, according to state media outlet, Xinhua.
The standard 164-seat, narrow-body aircraft has a seating arrangement of 156 economy seats and a business class suite with eight seats.
The well-illuminated cabin is a generous 2.25 metres tall and is kept well-oxygenated by a modern air filtration system, according to Aviation Source News.
Passengers can kill time by watching media on one of twenty 12-inch monitors distributed throughout the airplane.
The C919 is powered by twin LEAP-1C jet engines developed by CFM International in 2017.
The US-French joint venture manufactures propulsion systems for both Boeing and Airbus, both of which are currently testing the LEAP-1C variant, an aerodynamically improved version of the LEAP-1B.
Each engine generates between 150 and 160 kilonewtons of thrust and has an estimated range of between 4 000 and 5 500 kilometres, enough to meet the standards of even the large-bodied Boeing 747 and Airbus A321.
COMAC’s C919 is reliant on several key international components, including the engines, wheels and flight instruments. However, it’s close to unveiling its domestically produced CJ-1000A jet engine.
Notably, COMAC hinted it would build larger and scaled-down versions of the C919, as well as cargo and VIP models.
COMAC has the capacity to produce roughly 25 C919s every year by 2030, according to CNN.
It has taken more than 150 firm orders from several major airlines and signed memorandums of understanding for a further 300 models. Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines has committed to purchasing four aircraft over the next two years.
The new commercial airliner has received pre-orders from Air China, Hainan Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Irish-American aviation financing firm, GE Capital Aviation Services.
COMAC intends to capture one-third of domestic market share, and one-fifth of the international market share, by 2035.
They expect to deliver 2 000 units worldwide in that span, but would have to ramp up production significantly if those conditions are to be met.
At an estimated $68-$90 million, the C919 is attractively priced relative when compared to its direct competition, the 737 and A320, which come in at between $100-$112 million.