Over a year after it was officially presented, the COMAC C919 has embarked on the final stretch before its first take off. The Chinese aircraft manufacturer switched on the CFM Leap 1C engines on its test aircraft for the first time on 9th November. The twin engine jet then joined the ranks of the COMAC flight test department on December 25th.
Since then, a series of ground tests has begun, including low-speed runs, as shown in this AirForceWorld short video, shot on December 28th. We see the C919 rolling a few seconds on one of the runways at Shanghai-Pudong International Airport before stopping. These are rare images because the Chinese aircraft manufacturer COMAC is very cautious about giving out any information on its programme. The C919’s maiden flight is scheduled for the first half of 2017. According to our sources, COMAC has even set a date: June 15th. If so, it’s a symbolic one, on Chinese President Xi-Jinping’s birthday.
A total of six aircraft will be used for flight testing. The Chinese medium-haul plane, seating 156 to 168 passengers, is expected to enter service next year. China Eastern Airlines will be the first company to take delivery of the new aircraft.