China's homegrown C919 makes first commercial flight

SUNDAY, MAY 28, 2023

China Eastern Airlines on Sunday sent the country's narrow-body jet C919 on its first commercial flight, marking the homegrown plane's entry into passenger service and a milestone for China's efforts to become more self-reliant.

China's self-developed large passenger aircraft, started its first commercial flight from Shanghai to Beijing on Sunday morning, marking its official entry into the civil aviation market.

Operated by China Eastern Airlines as flight number MU9191 while carrying some 130 passengers, the commercial journey is scheduled to land at Beijing Capital Airport within over two hours after departing from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

The C919 project was launched in 2007 to rival the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle jet families. Developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (COMAC), the first C919 aircraft went off the production line in Shanghai in November 2015.

The plane conducted a successful maiden flight in 2017.

In the following years, the C919 conducted several test flights in different locations to test its capabilities.

The C919 has gone through tests in various types of extreme natural environments including high temperature, high humidity, severe cold, gusts and freeze. Its safety, reliability, and environmental protection performance have been comprehensively assessed.

It obtained the type certificate in September 2022, which indicates that the jetliner's design meets airworthiness standards and environmental requirements.

The plane received its production certificate on Nov. 29, 2022, meaning the model can enter mass production.

On Dec. 9, 2022, the first C919 aircraft was delivered to its first customer, China Eastern Airlines.

After the delivery, the C919 jetliner completed its 100-hour aircraft validation flight process, comprehensively verifying its reliability with commercial operation in mind.

The C919 had gained 1,035 orders from 32 customers by the end of 2022, according to the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai.

The successful development of the C919 indicates that China has the capability to independently develop large passenger aircraft.

President Xi Jinping has hailed the project as one of China's best innovative achievements.

Lv Boyuan, a 21-year-old student and aviation enthusiast, was at the Shanghai airport on Sunday to catch a flight to Chengdu where he planned to take a C919 flight back to Shanghai the day after.

"I'm feeling very emotional. Actually, when I heard about C919's maiden flight, I spent the whole week paying attention to everything about this development," Lv said.