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A Comac C919 conducting high-speed taxiing (Photo: Comac)

COMAC’s C919 Gains Certification from CAAC

The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China’s (COMAC) C919 received its Type Certificate (TC) from the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) on September 29, 2022. The milestone came five years after the type’s maiden flight in May 2017. Following certification, the company expects to deliver the first aircraft to its launch customer, China Eastern Airlines, before the end of this year.

C919 is a narrowbody airplane with 150 seats, directly competing with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family. Despite the similar designs, the aircraft only has a range of 2200 nm to 3300 nm, well below its competitors. However, the specification strikes an outstanding balance between cost and performance since the aircraft primarily targets the domestic market, whose longest route is only 2100nm.

Its predecessor, the COMAC ARJ21, took another 11 months after receiving its TC before the first delivery. However, COMAC has learned from its mistakes in the past, such as starting the Aircraft Evaluation Group early. It is confident in making the first delivery sooner for the larger jet.

Type Certificate of C919. (Photo: CAAC)

Building up to the moment

Although the company never published any milestone dates, the public speculated that September 19 would be the certification date. However, the date has come and passed without any formal announcement. The company flew two of its test fleets to the country’s capital Beijing in preparation for the ceremony on Sept. 12.

As many have expected, the aircraft received its TC before October 1 – the country’s national day. It’ll be considered a gift for the country. Interestingly though, the authorities were not rushing to show off its achievements. It has asked its media outlets and other members at the ceremony to stay quiet until Sept. 30. There is no obvious explanation for this request. 

After achieving its TC, the manufacturer will pursue the Production Certificate (PC) to mass-produce the plane under the approved type design. It took the company two years and three months before it received the production certificate for the smaller ARJ21 regional jet. However, it doesn’t mean the company can’t produce the plane without it. The CAAC must certify each airplane until it rewards the PC to the company.

The Shanghai-based company also has another aircraft pending certification. It flew a medical version of the ARJ21-700 jet along with the two C919s. It’ll likely receive its certificate in October.

Timeline

2008 – The C919 program was launched with a targeted first flight time in 2014. 

2015 – The Shanghai-based company unveiled the first airplane at its factory in Shanghai during a roll-out ceremony following several delays.

2017 – C919 made its maiden flight on May 5, with its planned entry into service slipping into 2020.

2018 – The state-owned manufacturer grounded its test fleet for modifications, further pushing the first delivery into 2021.

2022 – The company announced the completion of its flight test campaign on July 23.

2022 – The company ferried two planes in its test fleets to Beijing Capital Airport on September 12.

2022 – CAAC awarded the Type Certificate to the C919 on September 29.

Author

  • Fangzhong Guo

    Fangzhong grew up near an OEM airport in northeastern China, where he developed his enthusiasm for aviation. Taking upon his passion, he's now working as an aircraft interior design engineer. Besides working in the aerospace industry, Fangzhong enjoys trying out different types of airplanes and seeing how airplane interiors have evolved. So far, he's flown on over 80 types of aircraft. He also planespots in his spare time. His rarest catches included the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and AN-225.

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