Singapore Airshow 2024. Chinese airliner C919 left the territory of the People’s Republic of China for the first time

Photo by © COMAC

The 158-192 seat C919 aircraft, which is considered a competitor to the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX 8, made its first flight outside the territory of the People’s Republic of China. On 18 February, the airliner arrived in Singapore to participate as part of the SOMAS exposition at the Singapore Airshow.

The Chinese aerospace corporation has put considerable effort and money into the development of its narrow-body medium-haul aircraft in order to weaken the influence of the two leading players in the global passenger transport market. COMAC says it is keen to expand the C919’s presence in both domestic and international markets. However, the aircraft is currently only certified in China. In 2023, the first four C919s will begin commercial operations in the China Eastern Airlines fleet.

In January, a COMAC official said the corporation intends to invest tens of billions of yuan over the next 3-5 years to expand C919 production capacity, according to Chinese media reports. In addition, China’s aviation authority this year intends to complete the validation of the C919 by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which began in 2018.

In 2023, SOMAS handed over two serial C919 aircraft for service. Western aviation experts believe that 7-10 airliners will be produced and delivered this year. The C919 has a good opportunity to win a significant share of the domestic Chinese market, Reuters analysts believe.

The day before the Singapore Airshow, International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general Willie Walsh suggested that the C919s would mainly be used for China’s large domestic market and it could be decades before the PRC can develop an aircraft capable of competing with Boeing and Airbus on the international stage. “It’s impressive and it will be interesting to look at, but I think it will be a little while before they can be seen as worthy competitors,” he said.