Chinese state owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) has completed taxi testing of Comac C919 narrowbody airliner with final tests done at Shanghai Pudong Internation Airport. With this, they have received authorisation from Civil Aviation Administration of China to conduct first flight of the aircraft. Reportedly the first flight will be in the month of May.
When China unveiled the order of a large commercial jetliner in 2010, it was mostly in presence of local media. However, as the Comac C919 approaches the date of its maiden flight, they want the whole world to take notice. While the launch carrier will be China Eastern, they are looking not only at the domestic carriers but eyeing the global market. Originally scheduled for 2016, deliveries are expected to start around 2020.
Using the same engine as Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, Comac first has a fast growing domestic market to cater and has chalked up commitments primarily from Chinese state backed airlines. Airbus delivered over 150 aircrafts to Chinese operators last year and the number has constantly been high. The cost is expected to be considerably less than rivals Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 but many potential buyers will be holding their decision until much later because of safety record and global support team. For now, eyes are set for when the Comac C919 takes off for its maiden flight.