China’s first indigenously built passenger aircraft C919 successfully completed its first commercial flight on Sunday, May 28, BBC reported. Operated by the state-run China Eastern Airlines, the new C919 plane left Shanghai at 10:32 am local time and ”arrived smoothly” at the Beijing Capital International Airport at 12:31 pm, as per CNN.
The single-aisle, twin-engined aircraft has 164 seats and it carried more than 130 passengers on board. Passengers received red boarding passes and enjoyed a sumptuous ”themed meal” to commemorate the flight, state broadcaster CCTV said. From Monday, the C919 will operate on China Eastern’s regular route between Shanghai and the southwestern city of Chengdu.
The journey marks a milestone in the nation’s effort to compete with Western rivals like Boeing and Airbus.
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) May 28, 2023
The C919 has been developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), and it was granted a type certificate by the Civil Aviation Administration of China last September.
CEA conducted a 100-hour verification flight for its first C919 aircraft on December 26, 2022, to verify and confirm the aircraft’s operational safety. The C919 has also gone through tests in various types of extreme natural environments including high temperature, high humidity, severe cold, gusts, and freeze.
The C919 made its first flight in 2017 after years of delays and has conducted numerous test flights before Sunday’s first commercial flight.
“The first commercial flight is a coming-of-age ceremony of the new aircraft, and C919 will get better and better if it stands the test of the market,” said Zhang Xiaoguang, director of the marketing and sales department of COMAC, in a Xinhua report.
Officials say the entry of Chinese aircraft could reduce the reliance on Boeing and Airbus and could pose a competition to them in the international civil aviation market.