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China’s Homegrown Airliner, the Comac C919, Makes First Ever Flight Outside Mainland China

China’s Homegrown Airliner, the Comac C919, Makes First Ever Flight Outside Mainland China

a plane on the runway

A Chinese homegrown commercial airliner made its first flight outside of the mainland on Tuesday, although the test aircraft only made a short two-hour hop from Shanghai to Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.

The aircraft, the C919, manufactured by the Chinese aerospace company Comac, is on a special mission to Hong Kong to show off the technology, which only went into commercial operation for the first time at the end of May 2023.

The C919 is set to compete with the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 in terms of range, capacity and efficiency. The single-aisle, two-engined aircraft has a maximum passenger capacity of 192 seats and a range of up to 5,555 kilometres.

The program was first announced in 2008 but it wasn’t until 2015 that the first prototype rolled off the production, and it was another two years before the first test flight.

By late 2022, the C919 received its first type certificate by Chinese officials, allowing the aircraft to be operated commercially. The first C919 was delivered to China Eastern Airlines a couple of months later, although the plane didn’t carry passengers for the first time for another five months.

Until now, the C919 has been restricted to domestic flights within the mainland, but on Tuesday, Comac sent a test model to Hong Kong on its first flight outside of the mainland.

Tomorrow, the aircraft is expected to conduct a low-level flyby over Victoria Harbour alongside the Comac ARJ21 – a Chinese-developed regional jet which has now carried more than 10 million passengers.

The C919 isn’t expected to go head to head with Airbus or Boeing on a worldwide scale just yet, but it could start putting pressure on the two Western aerospace giants when it comes to China’s massive aviation market.

Comac has managed to secure orders for nearly 1,000 C919 aircraft so far from various Chinese airlines.

View Comment (1)
  • Nobody is going to buy these outside of China the economics of it suck. They are made up of a mish mash of foreign parts. I’m going to avoid these when I travel around China. The Chinese carriers don’t want these either but are probably forced to buy them.

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