China's first homegrown passenger plane takes to the sky for maiden flight

China's first homegrown passenger plane takes to the sky for maiden flight

The narrow-body of the first Chinese-made passenger jet - white with green and blue stripes with "C919" emblazoned on its tail - soared over Pudong worldwide airport in the commercial hub Shanghai as a crowd of thousands cheered. So far, Comac has received orders for 570 of the new airliners from 23 customers, majority from Chinese airlines and leasing companies.

With a standard range of 4,075 km, the narrow-body jet is comparable with updated Airbus 320 and Boeing's new generation 737 planes. Final ground tests only concluded a few weeks ago, much later than the original schedule of a first flight in 2014, and aircraft delivery in 2016.

Around 3,000 people were at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport to watch the C919-which is built by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMCAR)-take off on an 80-minute flight before returning home, Reuters reported.

Bao Pengli, deputy director of Comac's project management department, said the plane which took off Friday was the first of six C919 jets that would go through rigorous testing until 2019, before going into production.

The development of the C919 a key step on the path laid out by Chinese leaders to transform the country into a creator of profitable technology. But the flight of the single-aisle, twin-engine C-919 is also a symbol of the country's ambitions to develop an advanced high-tech economy over the next decade.

It will still be a while before you'll get the chance to take a flight aboard a C919 with the plane still needing to undergo various tests and safety checks.

The Shanghai-based firm plans to become one of the world's leading civil aircraft manufacturers in the next three years, aiming to have the C919 and ARJ21, a smaller 90-seat regional jet made by Comac, both certified to fly internationally.




With the flight, the official Xinhua News Agency said China had become "one of the world's top makers of jumbo aircraft", the fourth large jet producer after the US, Europe and Russian Federation.

China's first large jetliner has successfully completed its maiden flight, a key moment in the country's push to challenge the USA and Europe as a global manufacturer.

"What really impresses me with COMAC and with Chinese aerospace industry as a whole is that, we have traditional aerospace cycles in Europe and North America every 10, 15 years", Merluzeau said.

It is created to be a direct competitor to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

But the jet likely faces a lengthy journey from the first flight to commercial usage.

But Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Teal Group, told Bloomberg News that China may have to wait until its next aircraft to really break the duopoly for jets that can carry more than 100 passengers.

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