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December 18, 2017

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Successful test flight of 2nd C919

THE second prototype of China’s domestically made narrow-body passenger aircraft C919 completed its maiden flight yesterday in Shanghai, marking a milestone in its efforts to enter the global aviation market.

The single-aisle aircraft took off at 10:34am from the fourth runway of the city’s Pudong International Airport and returned at 12:34pm after a longer duration and higher altitude test flight than its predecessor, which was on May 5.

Yesterday, five crew members — the captain, co-pilot, observer and two test flying engineers — were on board the aircraft.

The two-hour flight tested the performance of C919’s major systems and equipment, such as take-off and landing, navigation and communication, speed acceleration and deceleration, according to Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), C919’s developer.

The aircraft’s wing flaps and landing gear were also tested.

“The design of the second C919 is more mature, so it could manage longer flying hours and faster speed,” said Wu Xin, captain of the second C919.

“The second prototype is designed for longer hours to prevent disturbing the busy operations at the Pudong airport,” Wu said. Wu, 41, was a co-pilot on the first C919’s maiden flight in May.

Several major monitoring facilities had been installed in the cabin, which had no passenger seats or internal decorations, according to the live video footage by China Central Television.

Two engineers watched and recorded the flying data. They also checked the conditions of the cabin gates and windows during the flight, according to Dai Wei, one of the engineers on board.

Yesterday’s tests mainly focused on the power and fuel system of the jet, especially the engines, said Wang Wei, chief engineer of COMAC’s flying test center.

The current prototypes of C919 are powered by the LEAP-1C engines from CFM International, a venture between General Electric of the United States and France’s Safran. LEAP engines are used on Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

In future, C919 will be driven by domestically made engines, according to COMAC.

The second C919 is scheduled to make four to six test flights to check 22 systems of the jet, Wang said.

After that, it will be moved to the Dongying Testing Base in east China’s Shandong Province at the end of January.

The second prototype rolled off the assembly line on November 28. Six taxiing tests were carried out before yesterday’s test flight.

The first C919 jet is at the Yanliang Testing Base in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, where it is undergoing further tests.

A total of six C919 jets will be assembled for tests before the aircraft begins commercial operations around 2020, according to COMAC. They will carry out over 1,000 ground and air tests to acquire the airworthiness certificate. Most of the tests will be conducted in Yanliang and Dongying bases.

The C919, which will have 168 seats and a standard range of 4,075 kilometers, will compete for orders with the updated A320 and the new generation of the Boeing 737.

COMAC has so far secured 785 orders from 27 foreign and domestic customers, including Air China and leasing company GE Capital Aviation Service.

Overseas orders, which account for 10 percent of the total, include Germany’s PuRen Airlines and Thailand’s City Airways, as well as carriers from Asia-Pacific and Africa.


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