C919 Enters Service With Maiden Revenue Flight


China’s first domestically produced jet airliner went into revenue service on Sunday although it’s a stretch to call it a Chinese aircraft. The China Eastern Airlines C919 launched from Shanghai Honqiao Airport with about 130 passengers (it seats 164) for Chengdu and will be assigned to that route. Government officials and state-run media all gushed over the accomplishment with confident predictions of a bright future for indigenous airliners in a market that is served entirely by Boeing and Airbus now. “In the future, most passengers will be able to choose to travel by large, domestically produced aircraft,” state broadcaster CCTV said.

The plane is built by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), but it’s more accurate to describe COMAC’s participation as final assembly. COMAC builds the mostly aluminum airframe but CFM International supplies the engines and a Who’s Who of Western aviation companies build the avionics, cabin systems and flight controls, among other things. It will likely be more than a decade before China can produce an engine to replace the ultra-efficient LEAP-1Cs. The company says it has 1200 orders for the plane, most, if not all, from Chinese airlines.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. If we’re going to diminish COMAC’s participation in this way, then you must do the same for Boeing and Airbus, as they do exactly the same thing outsourcing most things, perhaps more so.