China Eastern Airlines will receive the first C919 in the coming December, said Mr. Li Yangmin, General Manager of China Eastern, at the China Eastern Group party meeting on Monday, echoing the Party Congress held last week.

Li, in his speech, said China Eastern will “earnestly shoulder the major political responsibility of being the first airliner to carry out the C919 commercial operations” through the full scale of “cooperation, participation, and efforts” and make sure the operations are the symbol of “safety, aspiration, branding, and efficiency.


Photo: Changshui Airport

COMAC’s C919 has a range of 2,200 nautical miles and can seat up to as many as 168 passengers depending on the layout. The C919 can also be configured to carry as many as 180 passengers in a single-class densely packed cabin, which airlines might find appealing on high-capacity routes.

History of China Eastern and COMAC

Both based in Shanghai, China Eastern, became the launch customer of COMAC’s C919 aircraft. In March 2021, China Eastern and COMAC together, witnessed by high-ranking officials from the Shanghai government and senior management from both companies, signed a purchase agreement for five C919 aircraft in Shanghai.

The first C919 for China Eastern took its maiden flight in Shanghai on May 14th this year. After finishing the production flight test, it stays in the COMAC manufacturing center located near the Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG).

MSN 001 took the C919 program's first flight on May 5th, 2017

Photo: Getty Images

As a public company, China Eastern released its first-half-year report on August 31st, saying it plans to receive one C919 from the Chinese civil aircraft OEM during the second half of 2022.

However, in China Eastern’s annual report of 2021, released at the end of March this year, China Eastern said it would receive three C919s in 2022 and another two in 2023.

COMAC finally got C919’s type certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on September 29th. The C919 development team was received by China’s top leader the next day for glory, the day before China’s National Day. The certification was awarded at a grand ceremony at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), marking the start of China’s entry into the wider commercial aviation market.

The certification of the C919 means it is finally ready to enter service and has passed all the applicable Airworthiness Standards for Transport Aircraft under Part 25 of the China Civil Aviation Regulations.

Although now the C919 has received the type certificate, however before COMAC can deliver it to any airline customer. Also, the aircraft needs to receive an AC (airworthiness certificate) also issued by CAAC as well before it can enter into service. Therefore, delivering the first 919 before the end of the year will require close cooperation between COMAC and China Eastern.

According to COMAC, the C919 program has 815 orders from 28 different customers. And part of these orders will be transferred to firm orders after the C919 receives the type certificate from CAAC.

According to the private share offering plan of 2022 released by China Eastern in May, the listed price of C919 is $99 million (653 million RMB).


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