Chinese Jet Completes Second Test Flight, Company Announces Wide-Body

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Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, better known as Comac, completed the second test flight of its single-aisle passenger jet, the C919, on Thursday. The new airplane aims at the same market as Boeing Co.’s (NYSE: BA) 737 and the Airbus A320. Comac officials said a third test flight would occur within “a few days or one to two weeks.”

The flight came on the same day as a 50/50 joint venture between Comac and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. (UAC) announced that the dual-aisle plane it is working on will be named the CR929. The joint venture, named China-Russia Commercial Aircraft Corp. (CRAIC), was first announced in May.

The CR929 is an all-new design and will be available in three models: C929-500 to fly 250 passengers in three classes up to 14,000 km (8,700 miles); C929-600 to carry 280 passengers in three classes up to 12,000 km (about 7,500 miles); C929-700 to fly 320 passengers in three classes up to 10,000 km (about 6,200 miles). The planes will compete with Boeing’s 787 and the Airbus A330.

The second C919 test flight came nearly five months after the plane’s first flight, an unusually long delay the company attributed to being cautious. Addison Shonland at AirInsight has a map of the flight and a graph of the flight’s altitude (around 10,000 feet) and the plane’s airspeed (around 200 knots, or 230 mph).

The CR929 is a long way from entry into service. Preliminary design work is expected to be approved next year and design documentation is due in 2021, with the first test flight coming in 2023 and entry into service in 2026.

Initially the CR929 is expected to use engines from General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) or Rolls-Royce, but China has already announced its intention to design and build its own engines and has consolidated several state-owned entities into a single company, Aero Engine Corp. of China (AECC), to develop those engines. So far there is no estimate for when AECC engines might be available, although the government announced earlier this month that a domestically built engine is expected for the C919, again with no estimated delivery date.