On 29th September, COMAC’s C919 narrow body aircraft received its type certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
The long-awaited airworthiness certification was awarded at a ceremony in Beijing Capital Airport. Before this, the manufacturer had received a Type Certificate from CAAC for the ARJ21 program, which was issued on December 30th, 2014.
The C919, produced by state-owned manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) is aimed at rivalling planes made by Airbus and Boeing. In one of the photos shared on the internet, it said “C919 aircraft type certificate issuance ceremony” in Chinese.
“It is clearly positive for the C919 that they’ve finally certified it. It’s been very difficult to do because Chinese regulators are extremely risk averse. If they don’t get this right the implications in terms of loss of face for China is huge.”Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa
This milestone marks the end of flight testing and paves the way to start deliveries of the narrowbody aircraft. The first aircraft for the launch customer, China Eastern, has already performed its first pre-delivery flight and the carrier has planned to complete the introduction of five C919 aircraft between 2022 and 2023.
However, China Eastern doesn’t seem to be in hurry to introduce the aircraft from COMAC. Earlier in July this year, the company ordered 100 Airbus A320neo family jets, with deliveries starting in 2023.
As of now, the C919 will only be allowed to fly within China until it receives similar certification from foreign regulators. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has been reportedly working for years for the certification of the C919 with COMAC in parallel to CAAC’s work. However, an EASA spokesperson stated that the agency couldn’t comment on the date when the C919 certification would be completed. However, the US Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment on the C919 certification.
C919 Heavily Dependent on Foreign Parts
Assembled in China, the narrow-body jet relies heavily on Western components, with a plethora of parts including engines and avionics manufactured by foreign suppliers.
COMAC has so far received 815 orders for its C919 aircraft from 28 customers worldwide, as reported by Global Times China. However, the majority of these orders aren’t confirmed and many are from aircraft lessors yet to place the jet with an airline.
Airbus A320 vs Boeing 737 vs Comac C919
Scheduled to enter service in 2023, the aircraft is set to carry 158-168 passengers over a 3000 nautical mile distance. However, this falls short on both passenger capacity and range when compared to rival Airbus A320s and Boeing’s 737 MAX jets.