The second C919, China's first self-developed narrow-body jet, takes off on a flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 10:06 am on July 16, 2023. (Photo/China News Service)
The second C919, China's first self-developed narrow-body jet, was delivered to its first customer, China Eastern Airlines, on Sunday morning in Shanghai.
As more C919s are put into commercial operation, the homemade aircraft should perform better and more safely industry experts said.
The jet took off on a flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 10:06 am, and landed at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport at 10:20 am. It will officially join China Eastern's aircraft fleet on Sunday, according to the Shanghai-based carrier.
"The delivery of a second C919 for commercial operation demonstrates that China's aviation industry has entered the stage of using more self-developed jets," said Zheng Hongfeng, founder and CEO of VariFlight, an aviation data and solution service provider.
"As more C919 jets are put into commercial use, their safety will increase, and their manufacturer, the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, will fall more in line with market demand," Zheng added.
As the second of five C919 aircraft to be delivered to China Eastern, the new jet has the same cabin layout as the first. On Friday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued the plane all the necessary certification for commercial operation.
China Eastern said that the jetliner will initially join the first C919 on flights between Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Chengdu Tianfu International Airport in Sichuan province, and will later fly to more Chinese cities.
"The reason we are first flying the C919 between Shanghai and Chengdu is because it is an adequate flying distance, and the east-west flight will better allow the jet to adapt to environmental conditions, including temperature and humidity," Li Yangmin, general manager of China Eastern Airlines was quoted as saying by Chinese financial news outlet Yicai.
"The strength of China Eastern's security capabilities and heavy passenger traffic along this route also confirmed it was the right choice," Li added.
The first C919 has a layout of 164 seats, including eight in business class and 156 in economy class.
Following its maiden flight in 2017, the first C919 for commercial use was delivered to China Eastern on December 9, 2022, by COMAC, its manufacturer. After a first successful commercial flight between Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport on May 28, the jet has been put into operation on the Shanghai-Chengdu route.
"Since commercial operations kicked off, many passengers have specifically book flights on the C919 to enjoy the experience of flying on a large, Chinese-made passenger jet," said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst.
The C919 is comparable to the Airbus A320 and Boeing B737, and offers a brand-new alternative on the market, which should help break the duopoly maintained by Boeing and Airbus and help promote competition and the healthy development of the global civil aviation market, said Lin, who is also a columnist at carnoc.com, one of China's biggest civil aviation websites.
The first C919 has completed 87 commercial flights as of July 12 — two between Beijing and Shanghai and 85 between Shanghai and Chengdu, according to China Eastern.
With average load factors of about 80 percent, the first C919 has served 11,095 passenger trips and flown for a total of 250.10 hours.