China’s so-called “home-grown” C919 narrowbody passenger jet has been certified to fly, according to mainland state media. The single-aisle C919, manufactured by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) that is poised to challenge Boeing and Airbus, completed all its airworthiness certification work in September. It has now obtained a “type certificate” issued by Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the first aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2022, state-backed Xinhua News Agency said on Friday.
Despite being called a Chinese-built plane, much of the technology that has gone into the jet is from Western manufacturers including the engine, avionics, control systems, communications and landing gear. Initial reports had suggested the C919 had received the type certificate from the CAAC at a ceremony in Beijing on Thursday after 14 years of development. One of the photos posted online from the event showed a sign saying “C919 aircraft type-certificate issuance ceremony” in Chinese. Neither the aviation regulator nor the manufacturer issued statements to confirm whether the jet had been formally approved to begin commercial service, according to media reports.
According to Flightradar24, two C919 aircraft also flew from Beijing to Shanghai on Friday afternoon. Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines is expected to be the first carrier to operate the C919, having ordered four of the aircraft in May at a cost of US$99 million each. The C919 programme, which started in 2008, is meant to compete with Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’ A320.