Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

First passenger jet 'made in China' takes maiden flight

China's first large domestically made passenger aircraft has completed its maiden flight, mounting a major challenge to Boeing and Airbus.

The plane passed expert technical appraisal this March.

Levine said the Western giants had good reason to be sanguine about the C919's development.

COMCAR already has 570 orders from 23 clients but aviation website Airline Reporter points out that most-apart from 20 orders from GECAS, an aviation asset management service-are from other state-owned Chinese airlines and questions remain over whether the C919s will have worldwide appeal.

The C919, made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac, took off from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. "By the time the C919 is ready to debut, it will be approximately 15 years behind the newer Boeing and Airbus planes".

The C919's main customers will be China's domestic airlines.

The white, green and blue aircraft, with "C919" emblazoned on its tail, sped along the tarmac at Shanghai's global airport and lifted off under overcast skies in front of thousands of dignitaries, aviation workers and enthusiasts.

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

The Chinese state company has already set up a joint venture with Russia's United Aircraft Corporation to develop a longer-haul passenger jet.

The C919's maiden flight comes weeks after Boeing announced its decision to launch a larger version of its 737 jet within two months.

Comac says it have received around 570 orders, nearly all of them from domestic companies.

A recent Boeing forecast said that China will need 6,810 new aircraft in the next 20 years at an estimated cost of $1 trillion.

"Our goal, of course, is to become the third player sharing the market with Boeing and Airbus", Yang Chao, the dean of Beihang University's School of Aeronautics and Engineering, told the dpa news agency. "We are very confident that the C919 will play a more important role in the world aviation industry", said Olivier Dubroeucq, Safran executive vice president of the COMAC and AVIC Programs. "We are a supplier, customer, competitor and business partner to China's aviation industry".

On the A-share market, companies supplying parts to the C919 bucked the downward trend, with prices buoyed by the test flight.

Still, it will still be a while before travelers can board the plane - the C919 still needs to undergo other safety and certification checks. For another, it still lacks certifications for worldwide flights, such as from the US Federal Aviation Administration, which it needs if the C919 wants to fly in US skies.

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

About 3,000 people witnessed the historic moment of the first flight of the narrow-body jetliner.

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