The Chinese-made C919 passenger plane experienced a failure during one of its "100-hour inspection" flights and had to make an emergency return to Shanghai, according to reports by several sources on Chinese social media.
The C919, a passenger plane built by the state-owned manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), was scheduled to fly from Shanghai to Beijing and then Hefei on February 1 as part of planned tests before taking passengers to board.
The China Eastern Airlines inspection flight with the code Beijing Daxing-Hefei MU7819/20 was canceled after the abrupt return to Shanghai, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Netizens reported on social media that the plane never arrived in Hefei as scheduled but had to return to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport because of complications in the reverse propulsion of the left engine, RFA reported.
The failure led to the suspension of the "100-hour inspection" test, and it will probably not be able to start its passenger flights at the end of February, when it was scheduled to make its official debut as a passenger jet with China Eastern Airlines.
RFA attempted to consult with COMAC and China Eastern Airlines about the alleged failure of the C919 and received no response.
China has not provided technical details about the C919, declared by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a "national pride" undertaking, but it has worked on the project for more than 10 years.
The aircraft is believed to be powered by a Chinese domestically produced CJ-1000A engine. However, since the development program of the C919 is quite new, observers assert that several of the basic components of the aircraft are imported.
The aviation industry is not optimistic about the safety of the Chinese passenger jet.
In a second phase and through reverse engineering of the pieces of foreign technology, COMAC plans to have a second and third batch with components fully developed in China, one of the sources told RFA.
The first model of the narrow-body jet, which seats 164 passengers, was formally handed over to China Eastern Airlines during a ceremony last December at an airport in Shanghai, state media reported.
Domestic Chinese media previously reported that five aircraft were delivered to China Eastern Airlines –- the country's second-largest carrier by passenger numbers –- by the end of the year before going into operation in the first quarter of 2023.
COMAC said at an airshow last November that it had secured orders for 300 C919s but did not clarify whether the orders were fully confirmed and gave no details about the value of the deals or delivery dates.
But if the orders go through, they would take the number of known deals for the C919 to more than 1,100, based on figures from previous COMAC statements.
So far only China Eastern Airlines has confirmed five orders.
Reuters cited sources last September reporting that the C919 was facing a shortage of parts due to tightening restrictions on the export of high-tech US products.
Problems with Chinese planes, military hardware
As reported last year, Pakistan's fleet of China-made JF-17 fighter jets was grounded for mechanical problems in what has become another indicator of the poor quality of Chinese military equipment.
Pakistan has commissioned more than 100 of the aircraft since 2007.
Since then, the JF-17 has recorded a string of crashes, casting serious doubts on the quality of Chinese-co-manufactured aircraft and of their engines.
A media report in 2012 listed a string of 12 crashes over 18 months, among which were several JF-17's and Chengdu F-7 fighter jets bought from China.
Pakistan also has been facing serious mechanical problems with at least four frigates developed by Chinese shipbuilding firms since 2009, according to defence think- tanks.
Pakistan's four Chinese-made F-22P frigates "are giving nightmares to Pakistani Navy officers and men tasked to keep them afloat in the turbulent waters of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean", according to a June 14 report by Geopolitica.info, an Italian think-tank.
"Defective critical components and poor service from Chinese manufacturers have forced the Pakistani Navy to operate these four frigates with degraded operational capabilities, compromising some of the key mission objectives with which these ships were bought at a high price," Geopolitica.info concluded.