Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

China’s home-built jetliner makes maiden flight

The world's second-largest economy has thrown the gauntlet down to Boeing and Airbus with the first flight of its home-built 190-seat passenger jet.
The first flight of the Comac C919 from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China. Ning De /  EPA
The first flight of the Comac C919 from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China. Ning De / EPA

China’s home-grown C919 passenger jet took to the skies in Shanghai for its long-delayed maiden test flight at the weekend, a major step for Beijing as it looks to boost its profile in the global aviation market.

The narrow-body aircraft is designed to compete with Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus A320.

Made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Cocmac), the C919’s test flight had been delayed at least twice since 2014 due to production issues.

The jet is a symbol of China’s ambitions to muscle into a global jet market estimated to be worth $2 trillion over the next two decades, as well as of Beijing’s broader “Made in China 2025” plan to spur home-made products, from medicines to robots.

“Seeing the C919 take off into the sky made me quite emotional. This is a moment we have waited to see for a very long time,” said Wang Mingfeng, 42, who witnessed the maiden flight at the Shanghai airport.

“I believe that in the not too distant future, we will be neck-and-neck with Boeing and Airbus.”

At the moment, though, Boeing and Airbus remain far ahead in terms of sales, technical know-how and order books. And the C919, whose test flight was pushed back at least twice since 2014 due to production issues, may need years of tests to get certified in China, as well as in the United States and Europe.

* Reuters

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Updated: May 7, 2017 04:00 AM

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