a plane taking off from a runway

COMAC C919 Operates Maiden Commercial Flight

China Eastern Airlines today completed the inaugural commercial flight of the COMAC C919. After years of research, development, and testing, China’s first large passenger jet successfully completed its inaugural flight.

China Eastern Flight MU9191 departed Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport at 10:33 a.m. local time on the 28th of May. The flight arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport at 12:31 p.m. The historic flight was operated by a C919 with registration B-919A.

After remaining on the ground for around 2.5 hours in Beijing. The return flight departed Beijing Capital at 2:53 p.m. local time and arrived in Shanghai at 4:32 p.m.

a group of people in a airport
COMAC C919 Inaugural Commercial Flight
a group of people standing in front of a plane
COMAC C919 Inaugural Commercial Flight. Image: Chinese Embassy

The completion of today’s maiden commercial flight of the C919 represents a significant achievement for the Chinese aviation industry.

Passengers for the inaugural flight were reportedly selected through a lottery system. China Eastern Airlines announced the lucky winners via its app. Around 130 passengers were onboard the inaugural flight.

jet spraying water on runway
Water Salute at Beijing Capital
a white airplane on a runway

The inaugural flight took place on Sunday however, the aircraft is due to start operating on its real route starting tomorrow the 29th of May 2023. It will fly exclusively between Shanghai and Chengdu in Sichuan Province.

a woman wearing a mask on an airplane
Image: Hua Chunying
food in a tray on a table
Inaugural Flight Meal. Image: Bright Leo

Equipped with two CFM International LEAP-1C engines, China Eastern’s C919 boasts a seating capacity of 164 passengers across a two-class configuration. The cabin comprises eight seats in business class and 156 seats in economy class.

a row of seats in an airplane
China Eastern COMAC C919 Cabin

Designed as a direct competitor to the Airbus-Boeing duopoly, the C919 narrow-body aircraft was officially unveiled in 2008 and commenced assembly in 2011. The aircraft underwent an extensive development phase and was subsequently rolled out in 2015. On the 5th of May, 2017, the aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight, marking the beginning of an extensive flight test campaign.

Following the inaugural flight, COMAC initially aimed to deliver the first C919 aircraft in 2021 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of China. However, to the need to meet all requirements and specifications, this timeline was subsequently extended.

a group of people standing around an airplane
COMAC C919 Inaugural Commercial Flight

About COMAC C919

The C919 is assembled in China however, it relies heavily on Western components which includes engines and avionics. China Eastern, as the launch customer, conducted the maiden flight of the first C919 aircraft in early 2022. The carrier has plans to introduce a total of five C919 aircraft between 2022 and 2023 as part of its fleet expansion strategy.

By the end of 2022, the C919 had already garnered significant interest, with 32 clients placing a total of 1,035 orders for the aircraft, as stated in the 2022 Shanghai Science and Technology Progress Report issued by the Shanghai government. However, many experts believe that a significant portion of these orders placed for the C919 are merely letters of intent from domestic customers.

Feature Image via Twitter (Andy Boreham)