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Chinese-Made Passenger Jet Takes Off For Its First Test Flight
17 May 2017, 11:34 | Cedric Leonard
The jet - which has more than 150 seats and a range of 4,075 kilometers - is the work of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), a state-run company that was founded in 2008 with the specific mission of producing the country's first commercially viable passenger jet.
The narrow-body C919 jet - white with green and blue stripes - disappeared into the clouds after taking off from Pudong International Airport in the commercial hub Shanghai as a crowd of thousands cheered. The first large Chinese-made passenger jetliner took off on its maiden test flight, a symbolic milestone in China's long-term goal to break into the Western-dominated aircraft market.
With China's aviation market growing rapidly as a rising middle class travels more for leisure and business, the C919 aircraft is also expected to eventually take market share from Boeing and Airbus in the lucrative narrow-body market, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the aircraft in service worldwide.
With the flight, the official Xinhua News Agency said China had become "one of the world's top makers of jumbo aircraft", becoming the 4th Large Jet producer after the U.S., Europe and Russian Federation.
According to Comac, a total of 570 orders for the aircraft have been obtained from 23 customers.
That's the plan. China's aviation officials are pushing for bilateral agreements on airworthiness with USA and European regulators by the end of 2017 to pave the way for domestically produced aircraft such as the C919 to be flown in those markets.
Airbus delivered 153 aircraft to Chinese operators past year, while Boeing provided 160. Of the new planes, 75% are expected to be single-aisle. French-US supplier CFM International has provided technology for the aircraft's engines.
Analysts, however, say the production delays mean the C919 will lag technologically behind improved versions of the A320 and 737 which will enter service in the next two years.
In 2007, the State Council, China's Cabinet, approved plans to develop a large passenger jet. Comac executives say the C919 will "definitely" get there faster than that.
"With the rapid development of China's economy, there is demand for at least 2,000 of the aircraft", Fu was quoted by the Shanghai Securities News as saying.
The jet made a successful landing after an 80-minute flight.
China's first regional commercial aircraft, the ARJ21, began commercial operation in June 2016.
People gather around China's home-grown C919 passenger jet following its maiden flight at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. "For Honeywell, which has invested heavily in China's aviation industry, we are picking the victor", said Steven Lien, president of Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific.
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