On September 29, China‘s first domestic mainline civil aircraft, C919, received a type certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, which proves that the design of this type meets the requirements of China‘s domestic airworthiness regulations.
On September 30, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited an exhibition of the achievements of the C919 project in Beijing and met with representatives of the project team. Xi Jinping said that letting China‘s large aircraft fly in the blue sky carries the will of the country, the dream of the nation, and the expectations of the people.
The C919 is a 158 to 168-seat mainline civil aircraft, commonly known as “domestic large aircraft”. The project has been in the works for 15 years, and the first aircraft is expected to be delivered by the end of this year.
The C919 benchmarks the Boeing B737 and Airbus A320, aiming to challenge the monopoly of the two aviation giants. But analysts believe it will take at least a decade for COMAC to pose a real threat to both.
Three years after the C919 project was established in 2007, in October 2010, COMAC submitted an application for a C919 type certificate to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, which was accepted.
After five years of R&D and manufacturing, in November 2015, the first C919 aircraft rolled off the assembly line.
Although it was offline, the delivery date originally scheduled for 2016 was delayed due to various development issues.
After the successful maiden flight of the C919 in May 2017, the aircraft entered the comprehensive flight test stage – six test aircraft participated in the test subjects such as power, performance, and control, and two participated in the static test, fatigue test and other tests.
After five years of test flights and refinements, a type certificate was obtained on September 29, proving that the C919’s design met the requirements.
According to the regulations of the Civil Aviation Department of China, the next step for C919 is to obtain a stand-alone airworthiness certificate. After that, COMAC, as the manufacturer, can start delivery and put it into commercial operation. However, until the manufacturer’s entire production quality system meets the requirements, the production license cannot be finally obtained. At this time, it means that the aircraft has the ability to deliver in batches and officially enters the market.
According to COMAC’s plan, the first C919 aircraft will be delivered before the end of 2022. At present, there are 28 C919 customers and the cumulative order has reached 815.
Challenge Boeing Airbus?
The C919 is China‘s first large passenger aircraft developed in accordance with international airworthiness standards, aiming to challenge the market of Western civil aviation giants.
There are 158 to 168 seats in the C919 cabin, 6 seats in a row, divided into two sides by a single aisle, 3 on each side. The Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 are also in this layout.
This type of mainline passenger aircraft is the most in-demand market in the world, with Chinese airlines accounting for about a quarter of the market, and the first customers of the C919 are also expected to be mainly Chinese airlines.
On October 1, Nigerian Aviation Minister Sirika told Reuters that with the increase in the number of aircraft of Nigeria Air (Nigeria Air), the country will also consider buying Chinese C919 passenger planes, because it has a “sincere friendly and mutually beneficial relationship with China.” relation”.
In 2017, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has accepted the application for the type certificate of the C919; it is not clear whether the US Aviation Administration (FAA) has accepted it, but before that, COMAC had applied to the FAA for the airworthiness certificate of the small aircraft ARJ21. Slow progress.
However, the airworthiness certification of EASA or FAA is recognized worldwide, and obtaining one of the two means obtaining a passport to the global market.
Reuters quoted industry analysts as saying that in the face of the monopoly of Boeing and Airbus, it will take a decade for China to effectively challenge them.
The above-mentioned analysts also said that if it goes well, the C919 will become the first non-Western country to obtain airworthiness certification in the main category of jet airliners, which has established the status of Chinese-made aircraft as the main competitors of Boeing and Airbus in the future.
Airbus and Boeing both sent congratulations via social media after the C919 received its type certificate on September 29.
It’s worth noting that while the C919 is billed as a “domestic large aircraft,” it relies heavily on components from the West, including engines and avionics, from companies including General Electric, Safran and Honeywell Wait.