The second prototype of China’s domestically made narrow-body passenger aircraft, the C919, completed its first long-distance flight yesterday.
The single-aisle aircraft, labeled No. 102, took off from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai at 2:57pm and arrived at the Dongying Testing Base in east China’s Shandong Province at 4:43pm after covering a distance of more than 750 kilometers.
The Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), C919’s developer, said it was the start of intensive flying tests. It will be tested for complicated weather conditions and high-risk test flying.
The second C919 aircraft, which rolled out from the assembly line on November 28 and had its first test flight in December, has completed a series of inspections on operation stability and flying performance before flying to Shandong, COMAC said.
The aircraft will test C919’s power unit as well as fuel, electrical and environment control systems.
The first and second prototypes of C919 will carry out a series of experiments simultaneously. The first C919, which made its maiden flight from Shanghai on May 5, 2017, is currently in Yanliang Testing Base in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.
Some modifications have been made on the trailing cones and other systems of the first C919 prototype, COMAC said.
The company said there will be six C919 planes for various flight tests, and two others for static and fatigue tests on the ground, before the aircraft begins commercial operation around 2020. They will carry out more than 1,000 ground and air tests on power, performance, stability, flying control, frozen, high and low temperatures to acquire the airworthiness certificate.
During one of the ground tests, the aircraft was tested for extreme plate load. The test has been deemed as a major challenge for C919 because the ARJ21, China’s first domestically developed regional jet, had failed its first extreme plate load test in December 2009.
A series of other load tests will be conducted to ensure the C919 can meet the most advanced international airworthiness standard, COMAC said.
Also, another testing base for C919 will be set up in Nanchang in east China’s Jiangxi Province. The prototype jets will then have their main testing base at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport along with three supportive bases in Yanliang, Dongying and Nanchang. The prototypes will also conduct test flights to other domestic airports in special weather conditions.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has said it is in the process of certifying the C919, a key step for the single-aisle aircraft to get access to the European market.
Global access for the C919 will also be boosted by a Sino-US aircraft certification agreement signed in October, according to COMAC. The agreement between the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the US Federal Aviation Administration aims to widen mutual recognition of each country’s aviation products.
The C919, with 168 seats and a range of 5,555km, will compete for orders with the updated A320 (A320neo) and the new-generation Boeing 737 (737Max).
COMAC has secured 815 orders from 28 foreign and domestic airlines. Overseas buyers include Germany’s PuRen Airlines and Thailand’s City Airways, as well as Asia-Pacific and African carriers.