China Eastern Airlines set to launch first commercial flight of homegrown C919 jet

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26th May 2023 – (Beijing) China Eastern Airlines, the first customer for China’s homegrown narrow-body jet C919, is set to launch the plane’s first commercial flight on Sunday, according to the carrier’s app. The C919 flight will depart from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and arrive in Beijing Capital Airport, marking a milestone in China’s ambition to break the long-standing Airbus-Boeing duopoly in the world’s airline manufacturing industry.

Manufactured by Commercial Aviation Corp of China (COMAC), the C919 is designed to rival the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle jet families. The aircraft has made many flights without passengers, and China Eastern announced on Thursday that the C919 would be put into operation “in the near future”, with Shanghai as its main base.

The commercial operation of the C919 is a significant development in China’s efforts to establish itself as a major player in the global aviation industry. The country has invested heavily in domestic aircraft manufacturing, with the goal of breaking the long-standing Airbus-Boeing duopoly.

China Eastern signed a contract for five C919s in March 2021, in the first commercial deal for the plane. The Shanghai-headquartered carrier received its first C919, numbered B-919A, in December and began 100 hours of empty aircraft verification test flights.

The C919 has a two-class cabin layout, consisting of business and economy seats, with a seating capacity of 164 passengers. While the aircraft is assembled in China,it relies heavily on Western components, including engines and avionics, from companies such as GE, Safran, and Honeywell International.

The C919’s successful commercial operation is a significant achievement for China and COMAC, as the country seeks to reduce its reliance on Western technology and establish itself as a major player in the aviation industry. The C919’s success could also challenge the dominance of Airbus and Boeing in the global market and potentially open up new opportunities for China in the aviation industry.