China's homemade jet to rival Airbus, Boeing may be certified in September

A photo from June 8, 2017, shows a C919 airliner model displayed at China Beijing International High-tech Expo. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - China's homebuilt single-aisle passenger jet, the C919, aimed at rivalling planes made by Airbus and Boeing, could be certified by Chinese regulators as early as Sept 19, local media reported Tuesday, in a nod to the aircraft's model type.

The long-awaited granting of an airworthiness certificate for the jet built by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or Comac, is expected imminently, after data from FlightRadar24 showed two C919s landing in Beijing on Tuesday in their first visit to the city's main airport.

The planes were accompanied by a third jet, an ARJ-21, a type of aircraft already in service.

China Times first reported the certification date, which is symbolic because it aligns with the model's name, and an industry source later confirmed the date to Reuters.

Representatives for Comac did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Certification by aviation officials in China would finally pave the way for Comac's C919 to start commercial flights, some 14 years after development began.

An initial test flight took place in 2017, but drawn out certification efforts meant Comac missed a deadline of delivering the first plane by the end of 2021.

China Eastern Airlines is expected to be the first carrier to operate the China-made jet. However the latest available fleet plans through June 2022 for the Shanghai-based carrier showed it taking delivery of one C919 jet, instead of three this year.

The C919 has several hundred orders - both firm ones and options to take delivery at some future point - from several Chinese airlines and lessors, though it is unclear how many will actually be realised.

The two C919s, touted to eventually rival single-aisle jets Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 MAX, landed in Beijing late Tuesday morning local time. BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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