C919 cruises past another landmark
2017-12-25, ZHU WENQIAN

The second test C919 aircraft, China’s first domestically developed narrow-body passenger jet, made its debut flight on Dec 17, indicating the aircraft model is starting the prelude of large-scale experiments and test flights, its manufacturer said.

The flight took off at 10:34 am from Shanghai Pudong International Airport and returned at 12:34 pm, according to its manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC).

During the flight, the aircraft was examined for the performance of taking off, landing and the working status of various main systems and equipment. It was also inspected for the performance of the landing gear and the navigation and communication systems.

COMAC said it would send six test aircraft on test flights, and complete more than 1,000 compliance tests. Another two aircraft will carry out ground tests, including static and fatigue tests.

So far, 785 orders from 27 customers throughout China and abroad have been placed for the C919.

“The successful flight of the second test aircraft is regarded as another milestone as it enters the airworthiness certification phase in China,” said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and columnist at, one of China’s largest civil aviation Web portals.

“Meanwhile, China and the United States have validated the regulatory standards of both countries. China and Europe also are in the process of certifying the C919 under the China-European Union air safety agreement,” he said. “We could say that the hindrances have been cleared up from the policy level, and the performance and reliability of the C919 aircraft itself will determine if it could get the airworthiness certificates from the US and Europe.”

In November, the first prototype C919 test aircraft completed its first long-haul flight from Shanghai to Xi’an, in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province.

In the next few years, the manufacturer said it would cooperate with the Aviation Industry Corp of China, and start intensive series of test flights at the testing bases in Yanliang, Shaanxi province, and at Dongying, in East China’s Shandong province.

Wu Yue, an assistant to the general manager of COMAC, said Yanliang serves as one of the most important flight-testing bases in China. Earlier, the ARJ21, the nation’s domestic regional commercial aircraft, took about six years to complete test flights in Yanliang. The C919 is expected to take three years.

Lin said the C919’s entry into the market is expected to be between 2020 and 2022.

“Apart from meeting flight safety standards, the fuel efficiency, maintenance costs and the comfort level of the aircraft should all be taken into consideration before it is put into use in the market.”

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