Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

First large Chinese-made passenger jet takes its maiden flight

First large Chinese-made passenger jet takes its maiden flight

State-owned manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or Comac, will seek certification from the civil aviation authority and foreign regulators before making any deliveries. China hopes, in the course of time, to convert the current worldwide airliner duopoly of Airbus and Boeing into a triumvirate, by making Comac a major manufacturer as well.

A Chinese-made C919 passenger jet takes off on its maiden flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai on Friday. By the end of previous year, 21 customers had placed orders for more than 500 C919 aircraft, and COMAC expects to sell at least 2,000.

The 158-seater C919 took to the skies from Shanghai Pudong International Airport and made China the fourth jumbo jet producer after the US, Europe and Russian Federation.

It can accommodate between 158 and 168 seats, and has a range of 4,075 to 5,555 kilometres.

Eric Chen, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft China, said in an emailed statement: "We believe C919 will bring new competition to the market".

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As China continues to make waves in the global commercial airliner market, the country conducted its first successful test flight Friday of the C919 passenger jet. But it was only in November 2015 that China unveiled the aircraft in public for the first time.

"This is a moment we have waited to see for a very long time", Wang Mingfeng, 42, who witnessed the maiden flight at the Shanghai airport, told Reuters.

In 2007, the State Council, China's Cabinet, approved plans to develop a large passenger jet. Chinese airlines are buying hundreds of Boeing and Airbus jets to grow their fleets.

April 2009: COMAC finishes the C919's initial design and says it aims to send the jet on its maiden flight in 2014, according to the state-owned Beijing News. "Boeing has 100 years, and Airbus has over 40 years", said Sinolink Securities analyst Si Jingzhe.

The C919's first test flight had been due to take place in 2016 but was delayed.

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Comac says more than 200 Chinese companies and 36 universities have been involved in research and development of the C919.

But he added that the C919 might be able to get orders from startup airlines that aren't already flying either of the Western models.

But so far, demand for the jet has remained local: orders are nearly entirely from Chinese carriers for domestic flying. It was flown by a Chinese airline for the first time past year.

The C919 incorporated parts from over 30 global suppliers such as Honeywell International Inc. Adopting a cutting-edge engine and other components, the C919 is considered comparable with the rival planes in quality, said Yasuo Hashimoto, senior researcher at Japan Aviation Management Research.

The statistic is a good reminder that developing an aviation industry takes many decades.

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