COMAC C919 Moves Towards First Flight

COMAC's C919 prototype aircraft in Shanghai. The aircraft completed high-speed taxi tests, clearing the way for its first flight in May. Photo Credits: COMAC

COMAC, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, has reached a milestone in testing its new C919 aircraft, which successfully completed high-speed taxi tests last week. The test aircraft completed these at Shanghai Pudong International Airport last weekend, and has received permission from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, to complete its first flight next month.

Video published to YouTube from China Global Television Network shows the aircraft undergoing the high-speed taxi test, which which it went down the runway at 170 miles per hour, simulating a takeoff, and lifting the nose off the ground, before slowing down and coming to a stop.

Photo Credits: COMAC

COMAC’s C919 is a single-aisle, 158-seat aircraft that has a range of 4,075 kilometers, or around 2,530 miles. The aircraft is designed to compete directly with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families, as well as with Bombardier’s C-Series family. The aircraft was supposed to launch two years ago, however it has had numerous delays in testing and certification.

Photo of the C919’s high-speed taxi test at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Photo Credits: COMAC

The COMAC C919 currently has 99 firm orders and 566 total orders, including MOUs. The firm orders include 10 from GE Capital Aviation Services, the world’s largest aircraft leasing company. The remaining orders have come from Chinese companies, besides City Airways of Thailand, which signed a MOU with COMAC in 2015.

The COMAC C919 will be China’s second commercial jet aircraft, after the COMAC ARJ21-700 had its debut in June of 2016 with Chengdu Airlines on the Chengdu-Shanghai route. However, the aircraft has been reportedly not been in regular service since October 30th, 2016. With the C919 (and hopefully with the resumption of ARJ21 service), China will once again have regular commercial service with its home-designed aircraft, and will join the few nations that have this distinction, including the United States, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.