China’s C919 narrow-body jet, the country’s first domestically designed commercial passenger aircraft, is nearing certification, having successfully passed test-flight tasks, state-owned manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) said on its official social media account on Saturday, as cited by Reuters.
According to the manufacturer, six test planes successfully finished their tasks and the aircraft is now ready to receive a flight certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, which is necessary for commercial operations.
Beijing launched the C919 aircraft program back in 2008, but it faced a flood of regulatory and technical setbacks, including US export controls. While the plane is assembled in China, the C919 relies on Western components, such as flight controls and jet engines. Production started in 2011, and the first prototype was ready in 2015.
The first C919 is expected to be delivered to state-owned China Eastern Airlines in August. The airline placed an order for five C919 jets back in March 2021.
The C919 was designed to rival Europe’s Airbus 320neo and the US Boeing 737 MAX planes. However, this may prove difficult, as Airbus has a strong presence in the country (142 planes were delivered to Chinese companies in 2021 alone), and the Boeing 737 MAX was cleared to operate in China again earlier this year after two fatal crashes grounded the plane in 2019. At least 100 MAX planes are expected to be delivered to Chinese carriers this year.