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May 26, 2024
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COMAC and China Eastern Airlines ticked an important box on May 28 with the entry into service of the C919. Some 5.5 months after the delivery of the first and so far only C919 available to China Eastern, the carrier operated the first commercial service from Shanghai Hongqiao to Beijing Capital. COMAC C919 enters commercial service with China Eastern.

Flight MU9191 departed Shanghai right on schedule at 10.33 am local time and landed in Beijing at 12.31 am. The service, which reportedly had some 130 passengers on board, received a water salute from the fire brigade. At 14.54, MU9192 returned to Shanghai again. The aircraft with registration B-919A is scheduled for service to Chengdu on Monday.

The first service follows a prolonged series of pre-commercial verification flights. Before the C919 could enter service, China Eastern had to demonstrate that the aircraft during 100 flight hours. This saw her operate on numerous routes in China. In the past week, B-919A visited Chengdu, Nanjing, Taiyuan, Huai’an, and Beijing.

During these verification flights, the aircraft ran into some technical issues that caused a disruption of the program. The aircraft was flown back to the COMAC factory for checks and repairs but seems to have performed without issues since then.

Second aircraft China Eastern started flight tests

China Eastern expects to take delivery of four more C919s during the year. The second aircraft with factory registration B-001K performed its maiden flight on May 8 and has done two more test flights on May 10 and 18.

COMAC’s own test fleet has continued flying in the past months. Aircraft B-001C was active in March and April on three flights from Shanghai and B-001D did four flights out of Xian in April and May. B-001E has been active in the second half of May, with most flights around Xian and Kunming. B-001F and B-001G resumed flying last week out of Shanghai, and have done their last flights in late March.

On April 28, HNA Group announced a firm order for sixty C919s, with thirty aircraft each for its subsidiaries Urumqi Air and Suparna Air. The framework agreement also includes the intention to purchase forty ARJ21s. No details were shared about when the aircraft will be delivered. Including this order, COMAC reportedly has some 1.140 orders, options, and purchase rights. Firm orders are around 580-600. 

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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