COMAC Affirms Plan For 2021 C919 Certification

C919 unit 105.
Credit: State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC)

COMAC has reiterated its plan to achieve certification for the C919 narrowbody airliner in 2021, adding that it will try to deliver the first unit in the same year.

The state company has also found time in the program’s flight-test schedule to use one of the six prototypes for a flight display at an air show.

C919 chief designer Wu Guanghui told a conference at the show on Oct. 30 that the type certificate would be gained no later than Dec. 31, 2021, according to several people who were in attendance.

Moreover, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) would issue type inspection authorization by Nov. 30, 2021, Wu added. This is the step before the agency conducts certification flight testing. Company flight testing began when the first C919 took to the air in 2017.

COMAC said in August 2019 that it expected to achieve C919 certification in 2021. This forecast followed a succession of targets, not all announced, that progressively deferred the outlook for first delivery from 2016—the year set when the program was launched in 2008.

No date for entry into service was then mentioned. Therefore Wu’s statement that COMAC is trying for 2021 represents an update. China Eastern Airlines has agreed to be the first C919 operator.

COMAC took a year between certification of its ARJ21 regional jet and handing over the first customer aircraft.

The fifth prototype, with the manufacturer’s serial number 105, appeared at the show, the Nanchang Flight Convention. COMAC transferred this aircraft to Nanchang in December 2019 from the company’s main base next to Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

Also at the show, COMAC delivered an ARJ21 to locally based Jiangxi Airlines.

Bradley Perrett

Bradley Perrett covers China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. He is a Mandarin-speaking Australian.