As 2019 comes to a close, we have the opportunity to reflect on all that has transpired. So for the final publication of the year, we will take a look at COMAC’s growth and accomplishments over the past twelve months. And there is no better place to begin than with the first child of Chinese civil aviation, the ARJ21.
From the very beginning, 2019 was a tremendous year for the ARJ21. Over the course of the year, COMAC delivered six aircraft to launch customer Chengdu Airlines, with the first taking place on January 25th signaling that the coming months would be fruitful.
In April, Chengdu Airlines added four new routes to be serviced by the ARJ21, and in the same month the aircraft reached 10,000 hours of safe flying time in regular passenger service!
In October, COMAC officially launched operations of the large aircraft demonstration industrial park. Together with Chengdu Airlines who relocated to the park, COMAC will use the facility to accelerate large-scale production of the ARJ21 aircraft. The mission for the park is to support demonstration operations of the ARJ21 focusing on aviation operations, maintenance, training & more.
On October 26, 2019, the ARJ21 went international!! Chengdu Airlines launched the Chinese Aircraft’s first international route between Harbin Taiping International Airport and Russia’s Vladivostok International Airport, which is expected to operate twice a week.
On November 22, 2019, COMAC and Chengdu Airlines punctuated the success of this year and forecast clear skies ahead for 2020 with the delivery of a sixth ARJ21. This addition brings the Chengdu Airline’s ARJ21 fleet total to sweet sixteen!
Expanding the ARJ21 legacy, COMAC delivered the very first ARJ21 to Genghis Khan Airlines on February 22, 2019! Genghis Kahn (formerly Tianjiao Airlines), was granted a public air transport enterprise business license in January of 2019. The same month, Chengdu Airlines signed a frame work agreement with Genghis Khan Airlines to cooperate in the development of their ARJ21 fleets through data sharing and more. The Airline’s goal for its all-domestic fleet is to connect various regional destinations with its base of Hohhot, thereby helping to develop Inner Mongolia while simultaneously advancing the role of domestic aircraft in the Chinese market.
In June of 2019, COMAC delivered the second aircraft to Genghis Kahn Airlines. The following month, the airline officially commenced operations with the ARJ21 using a route between Inner Mongolia’s Hohhot Baita Airport and Ulanhot Airport. Genghis Kahn Airline’s all-domestic fleet continued to grow in September when COMAC delivered the third aircraft for the year.
April of 2019, COMAC unveiled the all new COMAC Business Jet (CBJ), at the
2019 Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition. This executive variant of the ARJ21 features a wide cabin, flexible layout, and advanced entertainment options. With seating for 12-29 passengers, Mach 0.78 cruise speed and 5500 km range, this aircraft promises to provide customers with exceptional versatility and performance.
On August 26th and 27th , the ARJ21, donning Chengdu Airlines livery, took part in the second phase of Beijing Daxing International Airport’s test flights. This was a significant event for COMAC and China’s civil aviation program as it marked the very first time a domestic aircraft participated in test flights for a new airport, but it certainly won’t be the last.
The following month, on September 12, 2019, COMAC celebrated the roll-out of the very first ARJ21 from the Pudong assembly line! The Pudong production line launched in March of 2019 and is equipped to assemble 30 aircraft a year with the capacity to open a second assembly line.
With the new assembly line in place to accommodate growing orders, on November 2, 2019, COMAC unveiled an ARJ21 with Jiangxi Airlines livery at the 2019 Nanchang Flight Conference. This marked the aircraft’s entry into the Jiangxi Airlines fleet! Official delivery and start of operations with Jiangxi is slated for early 2020. The airline plans to introduce a total of five ARJ21 aircraft to their fleet.
Not to be outdone by its older sibling, the C919 also make great strides in 2019! On July 26th, C919 aircraft 103 departed Shanghai Pudong Airport for a 2 hour and 39 minute flight to the Aviation Industry Group Airport to begin a new phase of test flights. A/C 103 joined two other C919 aircraft already conducting test flights in Xi’an Yanliang, Shandong Dongying, and Jiangxi Nanchang respectively.
The following month, on August 1st, COMAC’s fourth C919 prototype successfully completed its first test flight mission Aircraft 104 took to the early morning skies over Pudong International Airport in Shanghai for one hour and 25 minutes to conduct maneuver inspections and system checks among other tests.
Later that month, C919 A/C 104 was transferred to Dongying, Shandong Province, where it spent just over a month carrying out the second phase of its test flight mission. Just over a month later, on October 8th the aircraft successfully completed a transition flight from Shandong Dongying to Xi’an Yanliang for additional testing.
On October 24, 2019 the C919 program continued its forward progress as A/C 105 took to the skies for the first time. After departing Shanghai Pudong Airport, the aircraft successfully completed its first test mission over a 1 hour and 37-minute flight, during which several test points were completed and initial operation checks of each system were done. A/C 105’s main focus is special meteorological conditions.
On December 5, 2019, C919 A/C 105 traveled from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Nanchang Yaohu Airport for the next test flight phase including brake tuning, drainage, power supply, fire prevention, environmental control, and special test flights in extreme weather conditions.
While this is just a snapshot of this year’s milestones for China’s commercial aviation program, it is clear that COMAC’s hard work and dedication paid off in 2019. So as the company heads into a bright 2020, it is fueled by great expectations and the aviation dreams of a nation!