The accumulated delay has somewhat tarnished the aura of the C919, the first medium-haul aircraft developed by China, but which should finally receive passengers in 2023. The single-aisle aircraft of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) received its certification on September 29th.
By the end of July, all six devices used for these tests had completed their walking elephant, a staged presentation to celebrate the end of test flights. But for the company, this first step in the certification of the C919, designed to transport 158 passengers over 4,075 kilometers, comes too late to be a success.
This delay of more than five years, between the inaugural flight and the possible commercialization of the device, confirms the industrial difficulties that had been leaked in the media in recent years. Meanwhile, Airbus has won major contracts in China.
It remained in the ground for several months.
The date of the certification owes nothing to chance: it was essential for this strategic project to obtain the blank check from the administration before the 20me Communist Party congress, which begins on October 16, and in particular should confirm President Xi Jinping as head of the country for another five years.
The day after the event, Comac leaders also received encouragement from the Chinese president, during an exhibition on the C919 presented at the People’s Palace in Beijing. The development of this first large commercial aircraft is “the will of the country, the dream of the country and the aspiration of the people”the Chinese leader said, according to the New China Agency. “ [Le président] stressed the need to enhance the development of large-scale commercial aircraft, advance the establishment of a strong industrial nation, and spare no effort to make China a modern socialist country in all respects and realize the dream of national renaissance.” ., says the state agency.
When the project was launched in 2008, the aircraft manufacturer was certified in 2014. An ambitious goal in a cutting-edge field where China lacks experience. After a few years of preparation, the maiden flight of the C919 finally took place with great fanfare in 2017.
But the single aisle was not done with its problems: as of 2018, the prototypes were kept on the ground for several months, to carry out major modifications, in particular, the reinforcement of the engine and the nacelle (which houses the engine), after various media. Necessary adjustments due to calculation errors on the forces that would be exerted on the device, reported the Reuters agency, in 2020.
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