COMAC announced last Saturday (July 23rd) that all the C919 test flights have been completed, bringing the aircraft a step closer to type certification in the coming months.
The state-owned manufacturer stated that the six test planes had completed all the testing tasks as the programme enters the final stage of receiving a certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
“All six C919 test aircraft have completed their test flight tasks, marking the C919 certification is now towards the end. This is a crucial phased victory in the development of the C919 jet.”COMAC Press Release
To celebrate this milestone, the state-owned manufacturer ferried all six C919 test aircraft to Weinan Airport in Shaanxi Province and displayed the C919 elephant walk for the first time.
According to the CAAC, 300 flight hours of testing is mandatory before the certification. Half of the flight hours can be carried out in combination with other certification flight test tasks, whereas the remaining 150 flight hours need to be carried out through independent operations.
These latest test flights were scheduled to demonstrate airline operations’ readiness, including high airfield performance, auto-landing trials, airport turnaround and handling services, cabin systems, navigation and connectivity function performance, as reported by Simple Flying.
In the next phase, the CAAC and COMAC will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of all the test flights, and the CAAC will determine whether to issue airworthiness qualifications or not. COMAC will then perform a series of demonstration flights on commercial routes after the certification. The training for pilots and operators along with the demonstration flights may take 6-12 months.
Designed to challenge the Airbus-Boeing duopoly, the C919 narrow-body aircraft was announced in 2008 and began assembly in 2011, where it was later rolled out in 2015. The maiden flight was conducted on the 5th of May, 2017, when it launched the flight test campaign.
After the maiden flight, COMAC aimed to deliver the first aircraft in 2021 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of China. However, this was later pushed further, after it failed to meet all the requirements mentioned.
Assembled in China, the narrow-body jet relies heavily on Western components, including engines and avionics.
The first aircraft for the launch customer, China Eastern, has already performed its maiden flight and the carrier has planned to complete the introduction of five C919 aircraft between 2022 and 2023.
Scheduled to enter service in 2023, the aircraft is set to carry 156-168 passengers over a 3000 nautical mile distance.