October 2, 2022
On September 29, China’s first major domestic civil aircraft, C919, received a type certificate issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation 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 C919 project achievements in Beijing and met with representatives of the project team. Xi Jinping said that letting China’s big planes fly in the blue sky carries the country’s will, the nation’s dream, and the people’s expectations.
The C919 is a 158 to 168-seat trunk civil aircraft, commonly known as a “domestic large aircraft” The project has been going on 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 establishment of the C919 project in 2007, in October 2010, COMAC submitted an application for a C919 type certificate to the Ministry of Civil Aviation of China, which was accepted.
After five years of research and development and manufacturing, in November 2015, the first C919 aircraft rolled off the assembly line.
Although offline, the originally scheduled delivery date of 2016 was delayed due to various development issues.
After the successful first flight of C919 in May 2017, it entered the full-scale flight test phase – six test aircraft took part in test subjects such as power, performance and control, and two took part in static test, test fatigue and other tests.
After five years of test flights and refinement, a type certificate was obtained on 29 September, 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 an independent certificate of merit. After that, COMAC, as the manufacturer, can start its commercial distribution and operation. However, until the manufacturer’s entire production quality system meets the requirements, the final production license cannot be obtained. At this stage, it means that the aircraft has the ability to deliver in batches and enters to the market officially.
According to COMAC’s plan, the first C919 aircraft will be delivered before the end of 2022. Currently, there are 28 C919 customers and the cumulative order has reached 815.
Boeing challenge Airbus?
C919 is China’s first large passenger aircraft developed in accordance with international airworthiness standards, with a maximum range of approximately 5,500 kilometers, with the aim of challenging the market of the Western aviation giants.
There are 158 to 168 seats in the C919 cabin, 6 seats in a row, divided into two sides by one aisle, 3 on each side. The Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 have the same layout.
This type of mainline passenger aircraft is the most challenging market in the world. China airline orders account for around a quarter of market demand. It is also expected that mainly Chinese airlines will be the first customers of the C919.
On October 1, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Sirika, told Reuters that as demand for Nigeria Air aircraft increased, the country would also consider purchasing Chinese C919 passenger planes because of its “sincere, friendly and beneficial relationship with the bilateral with China.”
This is good news for the C919, but it is still far from entering the international market, and a key step is to obtain certification of merit in the United States or Europe.
In 2017, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has received the application for the C919 type certificate; it is not clear if the United States Aviation Administration (FAA) has accepted it, but before that, COMAC had applied to the FAA for an airworthiness certificate for the small plane ARJ21 Slow Progress.
Certification of merit from EASA or FAA is recognized worldwide, and having either means a passport to the global market.
Reuters quoted industry analysts as saying that given the monopoly of Boeing and Airbus, it will take a decade for China to effectively challenge them.
The above analysts said that if it goes well, the C919 will be the first product from a non-Western country to receive airworthiness certification in the main category of jet aircraft, which has established the status of Chinese-made aircraft as the main competitors. Boeing and Airbus in the future.
Airbus and Boeing sent congratulations via social media after the C919 received its type certificate on September 29.
It’s worth noting that although the C919 is billed as a “big Chinese plane,” it relies heavily on components, including engines and avionics, from Western companies, including General Electric, Safran and Honey Weil et al.