Chinese-made Passenger Jet Takes Test Flight

Owen Stevens
May 14, 2017

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.

State broadcaster CCTV sent out live footage from the plane, which had no passenger seats installed for the maiden flight.

Departing from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at around 2 pm (0700GMT) with five crew members on board but no passengers, the twin-engine plane signals the country's entry into the global aviation market as a strong competitor.

The C919, made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, has seen its test flight pushed back at least twice since 2014 due to production issues, underlining the scale of the task facing Beijing.

The jet's development is a key step on the path laid out by Chinese leaders to transform the country from the world's low-priced factory into a creator of profitable technology.

It is a great achievement made under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, said the letter. Through consistently researching mature aircraft models, adopting scientific methods, and utilizing the resources of the industry, and technology and talent from all over the world, COMAC managed to create its own passenger jets, said He Dongfeng, vice-chairman and president of COMAC.

China's homegrown large passenger plane C919 takes off on its maiden flight in Shanghai, east China, May 5, 2017.

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COMAC is already looking beyond the C919, with plans to develop a wide-body long-haul jet with Russian Federation. "The first aircraft rolled out on November 2nd, 2015". More than 200,000 technicians worked on the project.

A similar thing happened to China's first domestically made jet.

C919 is the joint outcome of global cooperation and global talent. The C919 is mostly based on Chinese design, however there was involvement from Western suppliers that have contributed various components, including the Leap-1C engines, and Honeywell (NYSE: HON) flight control and navigation systems. That marked the forth and last ground test before first flight.

1/3: China's aviation market still has a ways to go.

Orders have already been placed for more than 500 of the planes, with commitments from 23 customers, say officials, mainly Chinese airlines. "The large passenger aircraft flying in the blue sky makes generations of Chinese people's dream come true".

China is a massive battleground for European consortium Airbus and USA aerospace giant Boeing, with the country's travel market expected to surpass the United States by 2024, according to the International Air Transport Association. China will need 6,810 planes, worth more than $1 trillion, through 2035, according to Boeing estimates.

The aircraft was given the go-ahead in April to begin a series of high-speed taxiing tests, the final step before its maiden flight.

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