The C919 passenger jet is welcomed with a conventional water salute at the Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday. (Photo by Wang Yang/For China Daily)
China's first self-developed narrow-body jet, the C919, successfully completed its maiden commercial flight on Sunday, ushering in a new era of aviation that utilizes domestically manufactured aircraft, industry experts said.
Some 130 passengers traveled on China Eastern Airlines flight MU 9191, which departed Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport at 10:32 am. The plane landed at Beijing Capital International Airport at 12:31 pm, and was welcomed with a traditional water salute.
"Sitting in the China-made passenger aircraft C919, I felt extremely excited and proud," Zhang Keli, a passenger from Beihang University in Beijing, said when she shared her memorable experience with People's Daily.
"Both the take-off and landing were as smooth as wide-body aircraft, and the whole flying process is terrific. The cabin is quieter than traditional narrow-body jets," Zhang said.
Wu Guanghui, head designer of the C919 and chief scientist at Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, said the commercial flight was the fulfillment of a dream. "COMAC will work on delivery of more jets to our clients to ensure more people can take our homegrown aircraft," he was quoted as saying by Beijing News.
The C919 flight on Sunday had a configuration of 164 seats, including eight in business class and 156 in economy class.
Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst, said the C919 is offering a new option in the global aircraft market. "The jet is comparable to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing B737 series and is expected to break the duopoly of Boeing and Airbus, which will help promote benign competition and the healthy development of the world's civil aviation market," Lin said.
C919 jetliner completes debut commercial flight on Sunday. (Photo/China News Service)
The first C919 aircraft was delivered to China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai on Dec 9, 2022, by its manufacturer. The C919 made its first experimental flight in 2017.
Before the jet's debut commercial flight, China Eastern Airlines completed all test flights, passenger operations' verifications and other preparatory work required before commencing commercial operations, the airline said.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China, which authorized and inspected all the results of the tests and verification procedures, confirmed that China Eastern was capable of operating C919 aircraft safely, and approved commercial operation of the jet.
"With the commercial operation and the delivery of more C919 jets, the homegrown aircraft is hoped to drive the development of the aircraft manufacturing industrial chain," said Lin, who is a columnist at one of China's biggest civil aviation websites carnoc.com.
The aircraft flew back to Shanghai from Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday afternoon.
Qi Qi, an associate professor at Guangzhou Civil Aviation College, said the C919 is tasked with transportation of passengers, luggage, cargo and mail, while also bringing economic benefits to the airline company.
The first C919 aircraft will be put into commercial operation on a regular basis between Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Chengdu Tianfu International Airport in Sichuan province. With the delivery of more C919 aircraft, the carrier plans to gradually expand its commercial services to more Chinese cities.
A second C919 jet is scheduled to be delivered in mid-June. China Eastern will receive a total of three C919 aircraft over the next two years, according to Xinhua News Agency.
From Friday, passengers were able to book tickets for C919 flights between Shanghai and Chengdu, with the first flight scheduled to depart Shanghai on Monday, according to aviation data and solution service provider VariFlight.