SHANGHAI: China Eastern Airlines on Monday launched test flights for the first ever C919 narrow-body passenger jet that is expected to last 100 hours in all.
The airline received the C919 plane, China’s first domestically built commercial aircraft, from its manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) on Dec 9.
The test flights, if successful, would pave the way for the commercialisation of the C919, aviation experts said.
The first test flight saw the C919 take off from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and land at Beijing Capital International Airport on Monday afternoon.
Similar flights will take place until mid-February and last 100 hours in all, covering 10 airports in nine provinces and municipalities across China, the airline said.
“Test flights mark the trunk jetliner’s shift from technological fulfillment to commercial operation,” said Zheng Hongfeng, founder and chief executive officer of aviation data and solution service provider VariFlight.
Comparable to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing B737 series, Comac’s C919 is expected to break the duopoly of Boeing and Airbus in both domestic and global markets.
“Commercial operations of the C919 will provide air travellers with a brand new option,” said Lin Zhijie, an aviation analyst.
China’s civil aviation market is seeing rapid recovery and projected to become the world’s largest commercial aircraft market that will likely need up to 400 narrow-body jets annually in the post-Covid era, said Lin, who is also a columnist for carnoc.com.
The test flights will verify the reliability of the C919 and confirm if the built-in-China aircraft can offer passengers a safe, efficient and comfortable journey.
“We are closer to the milestone moment of the C919’s first commercial flight,” said Qi Qi, an associate professor at Guangzhou Civil Aviation College.
The large amount of data accumulated during the test flights would be shared with various divisions to assist the constant optimisation and upgrade of the aircraft model, said China Eastern. — China Daily/ANN